Witness C 'just made up' testimony - Tamihere

Nearly three decades after being convicted, double murderer David Tamihere has told a court a jailhouse informant's testimony against him was "just made up".

The man known as Witness C is on trial accused of perjuring himself during Tamihere's high-profile trial in 1990, during which he testified Tamihere, while in prison, detailed killing Swedish tourists Sven Urban Hoglin, 23, and Heidi Paakkonen, 21.

Prosecutors say in an affidavit signed in 1995 - and a letter he wrote to Tamihere in 2007 - C admitted his evidence was a lie, and that he thought he would be paid for the testimony.

Taking the stand at the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday, Tamihere said while he knew C in Paremoremo's Auckland Prison, he had been "pretty careful" about what he said about his case.

He briefly grew emotional as he listed the allegations C made against him in court, including a prolonged sexual assault.

"It was just made up," he said.

"One of the things about jail is there's always going to be somebody there who will try to use your situation to improve their own."

Witness C had "quite a bit" to apologise for, he said.

Under cross examination, Tamihere said he had told various minor lies to other inmates to try to figure out if anyone was informing, but nothing like C's evidence.

He said snitch's were in jail viewed as "a little bit lower than child molesters".

His brother, former Labour MP John Tamihere, earlier told the court of a phone call "out of the blue" from C offering to recant out of guilt.

He said he kept the affidavit C later signed in a safe until an interview of the witness with the late Sir Paul Holmes and a documentary were aired the following year, in order to maximise public attention.

The defence says while some of the evidence Witness C gave at trial was wrong - such as the claim Tamihere got rid of the bodies at sea - he was just relaying what Tamihere had told him.

Mr Hoglin's body was found in 1991 - after the trial - and his fiance, Ms Paakkonen, was never found.

The informant has had name suppression since Tamihere's trial.

Tamihere was sentenced to life and released on parole in 2010, but has maintained his innocence.