Party leaders from both sides of Parliament have urged the Government to raise New Zealand's refugee quota in an upcoming review.

A 20,000-signature petition was presented to Parliament today, urging the Cabinet to double the annual quota to 1500 refugees a year.

That level of increase was backed by three parties - Labour, the Greens and United Future. The Act Party supported a higher quota, but stopped short of doubling it.

New Zealand refugees tell stories of horror


Labour leader Andrew Little today said that a Labour Government would gradually raise the quota to 1500 over three years.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that it has capacity for 1500 refugees a year if funding for community services is increased.

Act Party leader David Seymour said New Zealand had capacity to absorb and support more people.

Instead of three-yearly reviews, he said the quota should be linked to New Zealand's GDP growth.

"Rather than setting and forgetting, it becomes automatic," he said.

A crowd on Parliament's steps heard from Eritrean refugee Ibrahim Omer, who resettled in New Zealand in 2008.

Mr Omer said he left behind his family and friends because the brutal Eritrean regime had introduced a "shoot-to-kill" policy.

"I took that risk because I had no option. Because I ran out of options. The only option I had was to ... look for safety.

"Because of the risk that I took that day and because of the opportunity this country gave me, I am living free among you in this wonderful country.

"But millions of refugees could not get this opportunity."

The quota has remained at 750 refugees a year since it was introduced in 1976.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said he would be taking a recommendation to the Cabinet soon.

Prime Minister John Key said in February that the Government wanted to be certain that New Zealand had the capacity for more refugees.

But he appeared to be more open about raising the quota, saying that the current threshold had been in place "for a very long time".

The Government last year confirmed an emergency intake of 600 Syrian refugees over the next three years, on top of the annual quota.