John Key is taking a hip-hop dance troupe on his trip around the Pacific at the taxpayers' expense - but they will be expected to dance for their supper.

Seven members of Prestige Dance Crew are in the entourage of about 70 people on the Prime Minister's four-day trip to Tonga, Samoa, Niue and the Cook Islands by Air Force Boeing next week.

Although others invited on the trip, including former All Blacks Michael Jones and Va'aiga Tuigamala, must cover their own accommodation costs, the dance group's costs will be covered by the taxpayer.

On Tuesday, when asked about the delegation, Mr Key said he believed "largely" all were covering their own costs but they would not have to pay the "nominal" charge for the flight.

He did not mention the dance crew and they were not included in the press release about the trip.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Mr Key confirmed that the Government was covering the cost, but said the group were expected to perform in each of the four countries.

"They came and visited the Prime Minister some months back and he asked them to come along with them. They've done really well and are also youth ambassadors. He was very impressed with them."

She said Mr Key didn't necessarily need a dance group for the trip "but these kids don't have much. It was a good gesture on his part, and they had Pacific Island links."

The Manukau-based group came second at the World Hip-Hop Championships in 2006 and fourth last year. The spokeswoman said the group would also talk to Pacific youth during the tour.

The inclusion of dancers on the annual Pacific trip is not unprecedented.

In 2005, Phil Goff took a group to Tahiti and New Caledonia to respond to the cultural performance greetings. In 2004 while in Opposition, National questioned a grant given to two women to study hip-hop in the United States, Fiji and Samoa.

Mr Tuigamala and Mr Jones, three mayors and business and church leaders with links in the Pacific make up the rest of the delegation.

Mr Key has said that given that the delegation will be travelling by Air Force plane, it made sense to invite others because their inclusion will have little impact on the overall costs.

The size of the mission is not unusual. The trip is an annual staple that Sir Don McKinnon instigated when he was foreign minister in the 1990s, and the touring party commonly includes "delegates" such as business people and academics.

It is usually led by the Foreign Minister - but this year Mr Key is leading it to help build the Government's relations with other Pacific leaders.

Contrary to a report in the Herald yesterday, Foreign Minister Murray McCullly is not going but Pacific Affairs Minister Georgina te Heuheu and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples are.

The Herald will be on the Pacific trip. It is paying accommodation, expenses and the $200 all media are being charged for the Air Force flight.