New Zealand is looking with interest to see if Australia signs up to a controversial United Nations declaration and may follow its lead, says Prime Minister John Key.

Australia's new Government is preparing to endorse a UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people that the country voted against last year.

New Zealand also voted no.

In Parliament yesterday, answering for Foreign Minister Murray McCully, Mr Key said Australia was due to announce its stance on Friday.

"We will look at the way the Australian Government interprets the declaration and see whether its interpretation may be applicable in New Zealand."

Green and Maori Party MPs called on National to sign.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty said Mr Key seemed interested only in symbolism. He disagreed, saying his Government was working with the Maori Party and working to settle Treaty claims.

Mr Key said, "It is an aspirational, non-binding declaration ... we take the rights of indigenous people seriously and we are working hard to advance those."

He said it would be interesting to see what caveats Australia put on support for the declaration.

- NZPA