Pressure is mounting on New Zealand to increase our three decade-old refugee quota.

The heat is also on for this country to make an emergency intake as the refugee crisis grows out of control in Europe and the Middle East.

Prime Minister John Key has indicated that New Zealand's 750-refugee quota could be up for review.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has called on countries around the world to take action immediately.


UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Adrian Edwards told NewstalkZB today that if an emergency intake happened, his organisation would likely arrange it.

It was hoped New Zealand and other countries would take action, because there was a large-scale crisis, Mr Edwards said.

And today some of New Zealand's mayors added their voice to the growing tide for change, calling on the Government to double the refugee quota.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said many "key mayors" supported a request asking the Government to boost the quota to 1500 over the next five years.

A letter to Mr Key, which is circulating among mayors, says "our moral duty is to help the human family far away from our relatively peaceful and prosperous country".

"We are currently doing some research on the impact of increasing the number of refugees across the country and the resources that would be required," Ms Wade-Brown said.

So far mayors from Auckland, Invercargill, Christchurch, Dunedin, Marlborough, Gisborne, Lower Hutt and Hamilton have indicated support, while Wellington deputy mayor Justin Lester said the capital was willing to increase its share of refugees.

"I strongly believe that New Zealand should be doing more and the regions are the answer to taking up more of the slack. Currently the Wellington region takes around 250 refugees a year. Wellington is firmly committed to doing its part and helping out," Mr Lester said.


"I have talked with our housing team and, between Wellington City Council and Housing New Zealand, we are confident we can house more people. We would seek cross-region and cross-sector support to ensure refugees are housed and supported on an on-going basis."

People power is also mobilising online.

A petition to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse on the Action Station website has more than 5500 signatures.

A Facebook page called "Doing our Bit" calls for New Zealand to double its quota. It has more than 5000 likes.

Also on Facebook, activist Urs Signer set up an "Open homes - open borders" event encouraging people with space at home to offer it to refugees. It has more than 1000 likes.

The UN's charity for children UNICEF says that pictures of children circulating for the past few days are a stark reminder "we can't sit idly by as the Syrian crisis continues to unfold".

"The sheer injustice and outrage that many New Zealanders have felt seeing the shocking photos of Aylan Kurdi, a wee 3-year-old boy washed ashore on the beach, is the very injustice and outrage we need to channel on behalf of the millions of children forced to flee their homes over the last four years," said UNICEF New Zealand's executive director Vivien Maidaborn.

"Combined efforts from individual citizens and governments are needed to ensure the resources are found to support these children and their families into safe places before the northern winter."