Government press secretary Glenn Inwood has resigned but says it is not over the Prime Minister's banning him from attending a pro-whaling conference.

Mr Inwood, who was on the staff of Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel, said yesterday that he wanted to work with Maori.

The timing of his resignation and Helen Clark's ban on his taking part in the whaling conference was an unfortunate coincidence, he said.

Mr Inwood had been asked to join experts from around the world to talk about whaling and the media at the conference hosted by the Waitangi Fisheries Commission in Nelson in November.


But Helen Clark said yesterday that his attendance would be inappropriate because it was a meeting of the World Council of Whalers.

The council was "widely believed to receive most of its core funding from commercial whaling interests and we know that those in countries like Japan are working to try and stop the moratorium on whaling and to get back into commercial whaling to supply meat to the dinner tables of their countries," Helen Clark told National Radio.

But Mr Inwood said he did not support commercial whaling.

"Maori don't want to go commercial whaling and I think that's what the Prime Minister's getting confused with.

"As far as I'm aware, the conference is funded by indigenous groups to discuss indigenous rights to sustainably whale, especially those communities in Northern Hemisphere and Arctic areas that have done it for hundreds of years and since 1987 have been caught by the moratorium."

It was previously revealed in Parliament that Mr Inwood worked four days a week for Ms Dalziel and one day a week at Morris Communications, where he was doing work for the fisheries commission.

He said his decision to quit was not made out of bitterness towards the Government or the Prime Minister or because of an acrimonious relationship with Ms Dalziel.

"I just decided that my future was working with Maori and not with the Government at this time."

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff said Mr Goff understood that he was also being invited to the conference and would make a decision on whether to attend after he received the invitation.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the Government should tell Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development) to end all involvement with the conference.

Te Puni Kokiri had offered $5000 towards convening a workshop on the cultural heritage of whale bone taonga.

Ms Fitzsimons said Greens supported the customary right of Maori to use bone from beached whales, but the Nelson meeting was organised by those who favoured hunting and killing whales.