The Prime Minister says New Zealand could expand its counter-piracy mission around Somalia or undertake missions delaying or disrupting enemy forces in the Gulf to free up other countries to focus more on Isis (Islamic State).
John Key was clarifying a part of his national security speech on Wednesday in which he said the Government was also "looking at where our military could make a contribution outside Iraq, by supporting more longstanding operations where our partners have relocated resource to address [Isis]".
Yesterday, he said the US had raised with New Zealand the issue of anti-piracy work around Somalia.
"What some of the other places like America and others have said to us is if we could do more work there, that would allow them to deploy more resources focusing on Iraq and Syria, or we could possibly use it ourselves for work around the region but not necessarily on piracy.
"... we might use resources we either have in the region or could dedicate to the region which would free up partner countries to focus more heavily on Isis."
Asked if that could include further interdiction work by the navy, the Prime Minister said yes.
Interdiction work involves boarding ships to search for terrorists or illegal weapons.
New Zealand's latest contribution to an anti-piracy multinational force began in July with a three-month deployment to Bahrain of about 45 Defence Force personnel with an Orion. They were replaced by another group on rotation in mid-October.
The Combined Maritime Forces headquarters is based in Bahrain.
About 17 of the 45 personnel operate the P3-K2 Orion and the others work in staff officer roles, the NZDF said yesterday. All are part of a deployment called Operation Tiki.
The Government of former Prime Minister Helen Clark did not join the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but in 2002, it deployed the frigate Te Kaha to the Gulf at Washington's request for a force to detect the passage of al-Qaeda terrorists through the region.
It also first deployed Orions to the region in 2003 to join the multinational interdiction mission.
On Wednesday, Mr Key said that regular troops would help to train Iraqi troops "behind the wire", meaning a secure post such as a military base that could be protected by SAS troops. Ten NZDF staff would visit bases around the Middle East to scope out a role for New Zealand.