Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand's likely military contribution to the fight against Islamic State "is the price of the club" that New Zealand belongs to with the likes of the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada in the intelligence alliance known as Five Eyes.

In his strongest hint yet that the Cabinet will approve a deployment of troops to train Iraqis alongside Australians, Mr Key in an interview with the BBC drew heavily on New Zealand pulling its weight as part of "a club".

"Ultimately are we going to say we are going to be part of a club like [we] are with Five Eyes intelligence?

"Are we ultimately going to be able to rely on members of those clubs to support us in our moment of need?" he said in an interview with Taranaki-born BBC journalist Lucy Hockings in London.


"And we do know that, when it comes to the United States and Canada and Australia and Great Britain and others, that we can rely on them."

If New Zealand did not have the resources to fly someone out of a country or have the resources to help a citizen in another part of the world, others would.

"Even if the contribution is small - of course it will be proportional - there has to be some contribution," he said.

"It is the price of the club."

The Five Eyes intelligence alliance began in 1946 between the US and Britain.

!n 1985 changes were made to the longstanding Anzus alliance with Australia and the US due to New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance. But New Zealand signed the Wellington Declaration with the United States in 2010 and the Washington Declaration in 2012 to symbolise closer diplomatic and defence relationships.

Mr Key indicated yesterday that a decision would be made about mid-February after Cabinet had considered the options.

He visited London en route to Bosnia and Herzegovina to chair an executive meeting of the International Democrat Union of centre right parties.


He will then attend the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Watch: New Zealand PM: 'We must help fight against Islamic State'