Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says he will apologise to Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English for not discussing with them in detail Te Puni Kokiri's $3 million deal to support Maori Television's bid for the Rugby World Cup free-to-air coverage.

He put it down to inexperience, having been a minister for only a year.

Dr Sharples will have the opportunity to apologise in person tomorrow when he accompanies Mr Key on a visit to Hawkes Bay.

Dr Sharples, who is also the Maori Party co-leader, told Radio Waatea yesterday that he regretted not having talked to Mr Key and Mr English - the other minister responsible for Maori Television.

He said he had previously written to Mr English about the fact that Maori Television was going to bid for the rights and that Te Puni Kokiri "might be supporting it".

"But a detailed conversation with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister I did not have and I regret that," he said.

"But that's me. I have only been a minister for a year and I'm still learning what you have to do and what you don't do and I'll apologise to them for the error."

TV One and TV3 have also submitted much lower bids and a decision has yet to be made by Rugby World Cup Ltd.

Outspoken National MP Tau Henare yesterday criticised Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell for suggesting that criticism of the bid had racist undertones.

"Give me a break. I'm one of the ones that has used that excuse and I know when to use it. When your back is against the wall and you haven't got a decent-enough argument, you pull that one out of the bag.

"It's an easy excuse and what it says to people who know about the use of that tool, that H-bomb, is that it puts people off the scent of what should be the discussion."

Mr Henare, a former Maori Affairs Minister, said his issue was not with Maori Television, which he was sure could produce good coverage.

It was with the Te Puni Kokiri "subsidy" towards a private bid. "I don't think we should be in the business of subsidising what is essentially a privately-run company to outbid another player in the market."

The Prime Minister and Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman should have been kept in the loop.

"I personally don't think it is right and the process has been a bit higgledy-piggledy. The process should have been tighter."

Labour Maori MP Shane Jones last night suggested that support for the bid could be based on Maori concern about lack of Maori input into Rugby World Cup planning.

"It is obvious that the Maori personality has been overlooked in the arrangements for the tournament," Mr Jones said on Labour's Red Alert website.

"Ngati Whatua have already complained that the Auckland viaduct RWC plans have overlooked Maori and Pasifika input.

"It is not credible for New Zealand to showcase its personality without significant Maori input."

Mr Jones suggested that Dr Sharples' failure to consult could be "payback for the gross loss of face that the Maori Party suffered over the Super City Maori seats fiasco".