Prime Minister John Key is supremely confident that the United States has not been spying on his communications the way it evidently has been some of its Europe allies.

New Zealand's membership of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance exempts all members from US spying, but Mr Key would not explain further.

"I'm not going through what we are engaged in and what we are not because that has been our standard long-term practice of every Prime Minister," he said at his post cabinet press conference. "But what I can tell you is that whatever we do is lawful."

He said he was confident "for reasons I am not going to bother going into".


Relations between the US and Germany have been severely strained by revelations that the National Security Agency has been monitoring the phone calls of Chancellor Angela Merkel - and 35 other world leaders.

The issue was raised at a joint press conference at the Pentagon yesterday with US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman.

Mr Hagel is responsible for the NSA and the latest documents leaked by Edward Snowden suggest it was responsible for collecting metadata of 60 million phone calls in Spain over a month.

When an American reporter asked Dr Coleman if he was worried US was intercepting NZ Government communications, he said: "New Zealand's not worried at all about this. We don't believe it would be occurring. And, look, quite frankly, there'd be nothing that anyone could hear in our private conversations that we wouldn't be prepared to share publicly."