Prime Minister John Key says any final decision on New Zealand's contribution to fighting Isis (Islamic State) in Iraq is still weeks away and he downplayed any risk of retaliation against New Zealanders.

Mr Key has just returned from Davos, where he discussed the response to Isis with other leaders. He said he had a chance to hear what other countries were doing and there was a range of views.

"But there is a uniformity of view that countries need to do something to stand up to [Isis]."

He said he held the same view and downplayed the risk of retaliatory attacks on New Zealanders travelling overseas. He said Isis' claim two Japanese hostages were targeted in retaliation was "a convenient excuse". Japan is not part of the US-led coalition but recently pledged US$200 million ($268 million) in non-military assistance.


"I think Isis will always claim those things, just as they have claimed them with others. That's the convenient excuse they use and they use a great many. I wouldn't take too much out of their comments," Mr Key said.

"I'm not going to not take steps because of threats from any terrorist group. That isn't going to keep the world or New Zealand any safer. Actually, standing up to Isis and reducing their threat makes it safer."

He said New Zealand would make its own decisions but he did believe it would take a concerted international effort.

"My view is New Zealanders are prolific travellers and we have lots of people in that region. Experience shows us whenever there are high-profile terrorist attacks a New Zealander will be a casualty ... So should New Zealand play some part to stand up against Isis? I think on the balance of probabilities the answer to that is yes."

About 10 Defence Force personnel are in Iraq assessing what New Zealand could do and looking at possible bases. Baghdad is unlikely to be chosen.

Mr Key has previously said New Zealand was likely to offer help with training Iraqi forces alongside Australia but would not have a combat role.

He repeated that assurance.

He said he did not come under pressure from leaders at Davos to contribute and there was recognition New Zealand was limited in what it could offer given its size.