The Prime Minister made an unexpected pit stop in the Pacific en route to New York after a mid-air medical emergency forced the plane he was in to land in Tahiti.

John Key was among the passengers on the flight that departed Auckland for Houston yesterday evening, Fairfax reported.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said NZ28 was diverted to Papeete, Tahiti, last night after a customer became unwell.

She said the person remained in the Tahitian city to receive medical attention, but the aircraft, a B777-200 plane, had since departed.

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FlightRadar 24 indicated the plane landed in Papeete shortly before 1am New Zealand time.

According to the flight tracking website the plane was in the Tahitian city for just over an hour before it took off again.

The Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the plane was expected to land at about 10am New Zealand time in Houston - four hours later than originally scheduled.

John Key was on his way to New York for the United Nations General Assembly and will also chair a session of the Security Council in New York.