The head of the independent inquiry into Wally Haumaha's appointment as deputy police commissioner cannot remember endorsing his skills and abilities online.
Dr Pauline Kingi was questioned by the chief executive of the Department of Internal Affairs this morning after the Herald contacted the office of Minister Tracey Martin who is overseeing the inquiry.
The Herald then revealed that Kingi, who is involved in selecting senior police officers, endorsed Haumaha on the professional networking website LinkedIn 23 times.
"She did confirm that she had, like many New Zealanders, set up a LinkedIn account when it was first launched," Martin told Parliament in reply to questions from National MP Chris Bishop.
"At that time it was common practice for Māori professionals to support each other through this new medium through endorsements."
Martin revealed Dr Kingi had declared she knew of Haumaha in a professional capacity and also attended the same tangi as Haumaha in 2015 or 2016.
"Dr Kingi has signed a declaration saying she has no conflict of interest in the appointment."
Martin expressed full confidence in the process which led to Dr Kingi's appointment, as well as her suitability for the role, citing her "substantial CV" which contains being made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Bishop had earlier called for Dr King to stand down and Martin to appoint a new chair.
Dr Kingi, a well-respected public servant, was last week announced as chairwoman of the $150,000 inquiry to "examine, identify and report on the adequacy of the process".
She was appointed more than three weeks after the Herald revealed comments made by Haumaha during Operation Austin, an investigation into historic police rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas.
Kingi has been asked to begin her inquiry on August 6, and report within six weeks.
Key terms of reference will include whether all relevant information was properly provided to, or gathered by, the State Services Commission, which has a key role in the appointment of senior public sector roles.
It will also look into whether the commission considered all relevant information gathered, or received, to reach its recommendation and whether it provided ministers with all relevant information it had or knew about.
"The inquiry may consider other matters [in the course of its inquiries] that it considers would assist it to deliver on the stated purpose, scope and deliverables."
The inquiry was announced after the Herald revealed Haumaha described police colleagues Brad Shipton as a "big softie" and Brad Schollum as a "legend" with women in formal statements to the formal Operation Austin team.
Those two and former Assistant Commissioner Clint Rickards were the three officers under investigation.
Another officer told the 2004 investigation that Haumaha described Nicholas' allegations as "a nonsense" and that "nothing really happened and we have to stick together".
Shipton and Schollum were acquitted of raping Nicholas but convicted of raping another woman at Mt Maunganui.
Haumaha has since apologised and said he "deeply regrets" his comments. "That does not reflect my view or the values I bring to the job every day."
Nicholas had privately raised concerns with the police executive about Haumaha's rise through the ranks ahead of his promotion to Assistant Commissioner last year.
Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement, whose attention to detail was credited with securing the convictions of Shipton and Schollum, also spoke privately with Commissioner Mike Bush.
Bush was on the State Services Commission panel which recommended Haumaha as one of two candidates for the job.
Police Minister Stuart Nash put Haumaha's name forward to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who in turn recommended the Governor-General appoint him to the statutory role.
Nash said he was unaware at the time of the "deeply disappointing" comments made by Haumaha.
Bush has declined to comment because of the Kingi inquiry, other than to say the police looked forward to "clarifying" matters.
Nash has conceded he would have "done things slightly differently" were he aware of the statements before promoting Haumaha.
The first thing he would have done was consulted Ardern.
Earlier today, the Herald revealed that Haumaha will not lead a team of district commanders as his predecessor did.
Instead, the police have created another deputy police commissioner role, by promoting Assistant Commissioner John Tims to run the 12 police districts.
When Nicholas' rape allegations were first revealed in 2004, then prime minister Helen Clark said she refused to promote Rickards to deputy commissioner solely on the basis on anonymous letters alleging sexual misconduct.
The State Services Commission interview panel had rated Rickards highly, but that was before they were made aware of the allegations, she said.
Nicholas' allegations - including being violated with a police baton - triggered an extensive police investigation and commission of inquiry into the culture of the police and how sexual assault cases were investigated.
Rickards, Shipton and Schollum claimed the group sex with Nicholas was consensual, and were found not guilty at the 2006 trial.
The jury was unaware Shipton and Schollum were already in prison for the Mt Maunganui rape.
The Mt Maunganui victim, who came forward to Operation Austin, was just 20 when she was pack-raped in 1989.
She said Haumaha's apology had come "far too late" and he should resign.
Nicholas' allegations also led to a Commission of Inquiry, aka the Bazley Report, which made 64 recommendations to improve police culture.