Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has revealed she asked Prime Minister John Key to follow the example she set with the Tampa refugees when trying to address the Syria problem.
Responding to a question on Twitter about what she had told Mr Key on the issue: Helen Clark replied "Think Tampa."
In 2001 when she was Prime Minister, Helen Clark agreed to take 150 Afghan refugees rescued from a fishing boat off the coast of Australia by the Norwegian container ship Tampa.
She has since described that as one of her proudest moments as Prime Minister.
Some current Labour MPs have used that as an example of the need to increase the refugee quota, although the Tampa refugees were brought in as part of the quota of 750 refugees rather than in addition to it.
Mr Key has also indicated he will now consider taking urgent action on Syrian refugees after earlier saying it would have to wait until a review next year - something that is likely to be discussed at Cabinet on Monday alongside further financial aid for the countries near Syria with refugee camps.
That comes after every other party leader in Parliament called for the Government to respond more generously to the plight of Syrians fleeing their homeland - including government support partners Act leader David Seymour, United Future leader Peter Dunne and the Maori Party. National's youth arm - the Young Nats - also added their voice to that chorus yesterday.
Labour leader Andrew Little said if Mr Key did take swift action to provide for an extra intake of Syrian refugees to come to New Zealand it would be welcome.
However he said Mr Key had shown little inclination to act quickly so the Labour and Green Parties will try to introduce urgent law changes for a one-off emergency intake of 750 Syrian refugees as well as to permanently lift New Zealand's quota of refugees from 750 to 1000.
Mr Little said Labour would put up a bill to allow an extra 750 refugee places for Syrian refugees over the next year on top of the usual 750 quota for refugees. A separate Green Party bill would permanently lift the quota to 1000.
The bills are unlikely to be successful - trying to get bills introduced by leave of Parliament can be blocked if just one MP objects and the Government will almost certainly block it.
Last year New Zealand set aside 100 places for Syrian refugees but only 83 were filled because the remaining 17 refugees had either declined because they did not want to settle in New Zealand, or failed medical requirements.
Mr Little said the UNHCR has sent out a call to countries including New Zealand to take more refugees so clearly believed there was a need.
"We have Syrian communities here so it is possible to relocate refugees here to New Zealand and have them in or close to communities of their people. I think we have to make that opportunity available."
Helen Clark is now the head of the UN Development Programme and has frequently tweeted about Syria and the need to stop the conflict to allow refugees to return.
On the photo of drowned 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, she said "one could never get over seeing the photo in this tweet - the world is witnessing human tragedy on a massive scale."
Meanwhile, musician Neil Finn yesterday tweeted: "C'mon @johnkeypm get some guts. NZ should open our hearts to refugees."
The sentiment was shared by actor Sam Neill who wrote: "Yep - this is shameful #doublethequota at the very least."
Kiwis open hearts, homes
Hundreds of New Zealanders have pledged to help with the international refugee crisis, with many offering to open up their homes.
Taranaki resident Urs Signer started a Facebook event on Wednesday night called "Open homes - open borders - we will host a refugee - Aotearoa".
Mr Signer said the event had received an "amazing outpour of solidarity and love".
"Millions of people are currently fleeing from war-torn countries. It is a huge humanitarian crisis and it is our duty to help and support where we can."
While the Government had been opposed to raising the refugee quota, people from all walks of life had come forward to say that refugees were welcome here by offering up spare rooms and sleep-outs.
"An East Coast marae has pledged to accommodate 30 refugees," he said.
Rachael Goldsmith, who lives in Invercargill, is one of those to offer help.
"I've got two spare beds, all the clothing any woman and child would need, and plenty of room out the back yard for a moveable cabin," she wrote. "I don't have much, but I don't care, because they have nothing and nowhere. I'll happily take a family."