John Key secretly visits NZ troops in Iraq

John Key meets Kiwi troops at Camp Taji
John Key meets Kiwi troops at Camp Taji

Prime Minister John Key's mission to Iraq was hit by two different dust storms – one forcing him out, the other trapping him there.

The secret trip was full of delays and complexities that included the prospect of Mr Key staying in Iraq for an extra night – a major security risk.


The final flight out even bypassed the Iraqi authorities to go direct to Dubai.

The first dust storm meant Mr Key could not get from Baghdad to the Kiwi base at Camp Taji and had to return to Dubai and delay the trip by 24 hours.

This trip ended with a close call when heavy fog saw the RNZAF C-130 Hercules pull out of a landing at just 16 metres above the runway.

The next dust storm hit on Mr Key's return trip to Iraq when he was flying from Taji to Baghdad to leave, and the two Chinook helicopters carrying his party were turned back.

It looked as if Mr Key was going to be forced to stay another night but the Hercules found a break in the storm to get him out.

Despite the dust battles, Mr Key was able to keep his promise of visiting the Kiwi troops he sent to Iraq.


And despite praising the safe environment, and the continuing threat of Islamic State, Mr Key was resolute that he would not extend the deployment beyond the two-year limit. He described Iraq as a "goddamn damn awful place".

3 News