Police Minister Stuart Nash says he would have done things differently if he had known about comments Wally Haumaha had made in Operation Austin before he recommended his appointment as Deputy Police Commissioner.
Nash also said that Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who was on the interview panel for the job, had not been aware of the controversial comments his deputy had made during the 2004 investigation.
However Nash also downplayed the prospect of Haumaha losing his job as a consequence of an inquiry into the appointment.
"No one is talking about Wally getting sacked," Nash told Newstalk ZB today. "What we are talking about is 'let's have a look and see if the proper process was followed."
"What I would have done is done this a little bit differently."
He said would have undertaken some due diligence himself, by having discussions with key people.
"The first person I would have called was the Prime Minister and said 'Prime Minister, this is something that must be considered by keeping in mind."
An inquiry into the appointment of Haumaha in May will be conducted after the Herald last week revealed that Louise Nicholas was furious about his appointment because of the complimentary comment he made about the men she accused of raping her.
She knew about the comments because she has had access to the files into the investigation, and she demanded a meeting with both Bush and Haumaha after the May promotion.
In comments to investigating officers, Haumaha called his former colleagues Brad Shipton a "big softie" and Bob Schollum a "legend" with women. Another officer told investigators that Haumaha had described Nicholas' allegations as "a nonsense".
The first person I would have called was the Prime Minister and said 'Prime Minister, this is something that must be considered by keeping in mind.'
Both men were found not guilty into the rape of Nicholas but it was revealed after the trial that they were already serving prison sentences for the rape in 1989 of a woman in Mt Maunganui.
That woman has called for Haumaha to resign over his comments, despite him offering an unreserved apology last week and saying they do not reflect his values today.
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters announced the inquiry which, he said, would look at whether the appointment panel and the Cabinet were given all relevant information.
Nash: "I've been told that the commissioner was not aware of Wally's comments at the time."
But Nash also said the issue was what level of due diligence could be reasonably expected of the State Services Commission, which led the appointment process.
Nash said the commission interviewed four people for the deputy's job and recommended two candidates to him. He then recommended Haumaha to the Prime Minister, who in turn recommended him to the Governor-General.
National is objecting to the inquiry being overseen by New Zealand First MP and Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin because Haumaha was selected in 2005 to be New Zealand First's Rotorua candidate.
He withdrew in favour of now-list MP Fletcher Tabuteau, but not before Haumaha represented New Zealand First at a meet-the-candidates meeting in Rotorua.
Peters disputed in Parliament that Haumaha had been a candidate but by that, he meant his name was never recorded by the Electoral Commission as a candidate, a definition accepted by Speaker Trevor Mallard.
At a post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, Peters confirmed that Haumaha had pulled out of the candidate process "but a whole lot of people start and stop."