Kiwis are fairly evenly divided over whether New Zealand should support any US-led war against North Korea but slightly more would support it, the latest Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS online survey shows.

Tensions suddenly increased today with North Korea firing a missile which flew over Japan and landed off the northern island of Hokkaido.

Asked under which circumstances New Zealand should support or take part in a US-led war against North Korea, 43 per cent said no circumstances; but 47 per cent thought it would be acceptable - 35 per cent only if North Korea made the first strike and there was a UN mandate; and 12 per cent said New Zealand back its allies regardless of who made the first strike. Ten per cent were not sure.

Tensions suddenly increased today with North Korea firing a missile which flew over Japan and landed off the northern island of Hokkaido. Graphic / Phil Welch
Tensions suddenly increased today with North Korea firing a missile which flew over Japan and landed off the northern island of Hokkaido. Graphic / Phil Welch

The results were fairly evenly spread against all demographics, except gender.

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Almost half of women, 49 per cent, believed there were no circumstances in which war with North Korea could be supported, compared with 36 per cent of men.

And almost twice as many men, 17 per cent, thought New Zealand should back its allies no matter which country might make the first move.

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has strongly condemned North Korea's latest actions, saying the behaviour was "not tenable" and "totally unacceptable."

"Directly threatening the safety of the citizens of another country by flying a missile over them is a dangerous new escalation," he said in a statement.

"We stand by Japan in light of this concerning development, and we stand ready to do whatever we can to facilitate respectful dialogue between North Korea and other nations."

A woman in Tokyo walks past a TV screen broadcasting news of North Korea's missile launch. Photo / AP
A woman in Tokyo walks past a TV screen broadcasting news of North Korea's missile launch. Photo / AP
Kiwis are evenly divided on whether New Zealand should support any US-led war against North Korea - but almost half of women are against such a move. Above, people view the news in Tokyo. Photo / AP
Kiwis are evenly divided on whether New Zealand should support any US-led war against North Korea - but almost half of women are against such a move. Above, people view the news in Tokyo. Photo / AP

Labour's Foreign Affairs spokesman David Parker said the poll results showed New Zealanders valued the independent stand New Zealand took on foreign policy.

"I think it shows how sensible New Zealanders are. I think a fair number have still got memories of Iraq and the mess that's turned into. Therefore they are very hesitant to follow the sabre rattling of the United States."

He said Labour would not look at getting involved in any military action against North Korea without a mandate from the UN Security Council.

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• The survey was conducted between August 16 to 21 and the sample size was 1000. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

• It is an online survey by ConsumerLink which runs on the Fly Buys panel of 120,000 active members, one of the largest in New Zealand.

• Sampling is nationally representative and is then post-weighted by age, gender and region to match the population but only those aged 18 and over are included.