Prime Minister John Key has all but confirmed that up to 100 New Zealand Defence Force staff will be sent to the Middle East to help Australia train Iraqi soldiers to fight Isis (Islamic State).

He insists that it was a decision taken independently by New Zealand and had nothing to do with belonging to the Five Eyes intelligence alliance [United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand] or signing the military co-operation agreement the Washington Declaration in 2010.

"We are not dancing to somebody else's tune," he said at his post cabinet press conference.

He also said that a previous reference he made about making a contribution in Iraq being "the price of the club" had not been a reference to Five Eyes, as had widely been interpreted, but the price of belonging to the alliance of 60 countries making a contribution to the fight against Isis in some way.


Mr Key plans to call Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott tonight and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tonight to tell them the news and to tell the National Party caucus in the morning before confirming the decision at 2pm in Parliament.

Mr Key will reveal details in a ministerial statement on the deployment, dubbed a non-combat raining role. Other party leaders to reply but no vote is required for deployment and none will be taken - not least because the Government would be unable to pass it.

With one MP down since the resignation of Mike Sabin in Northland, National and Act, which supports the deployment, would muster 60 votes in a 120 seat Parliament.

Mr Key said today that the New Zealanders would be working "behind the wire" in a camp, that they would not be accompanying Iraqi soldiers outside the wire but they would be able to fire back if fired upon.

He did not rule out New Zealand providing intelligence for air strikes on Isis targets by the United States, Britain and Australia.

Australia already has 600 troops in the region and is expected to add another 300 about he same time the New Zealanders deploy.

The most likely home base will be in Taji, about 30 km north of Baghdad.

Mr Key says he believes he has the public on his side. One News tonight published a poll tonight showed that 48 per cent supported the deployment, 42 per cent opposed it and 10 per cent did not know when asked: Do you support or oppose sending New Zealand troops to the Middle East, to help train security forces to fight Isis?


Meanwhile, Mr Key announced that Mr Abbott will be visiting New Zealand on Friday and Saturday for bilateral talks and to take in the New Zealand vs Australia cricket match at Eden Park.