Stalemate over: US sending ship to NZ

US Vice President Joe Biden (Getty)
US Vice President Joe Biden (Getty)
After a stalemate spanning more than three decades, the United States is set to send one of its naval vessels to New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key revealed the historic decision after his bilateral meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, who's in Auckland for a whistle-stop visit.

The US hasn't sent a ship here since New Zealand declared itself nuclear-free in 1987, which saw the ANZUS alliance fall apart.

"It is with great pleasure and an honour Mr Prime Minister, that the United States gladly accepts the invitation to send a ship to the Royal New Zealand Navy's 75th celebration this November." 

It's not known if Mr Biden's given Mr Key any reassurance the vessel he'll send in November won't be nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed.

Mr Key says New Zealand is "naturally pleased" by the decision.

"It is a further demonstration of the strength of our close relationship, our friendship and our shared values."

The ship's arrival will need to be signed off by the Prime Minister that it isn't carrying nuclear weapons or is nuclear-powered.

"There is a long-standing process for considering ship visits under our nuclear-free legislation. I will receive advice in due course to assist me in making a decision.

"There is no specific timeframe for this process, but it is likely to be a number of weeks before the advice is prepared and the Government is in a position to make any further announcement."

Auckland Peace Action spokeswoman Valerie Morse says the group is concerned by Mr Biden's visit.

"We're really concerned that the resumption of these military ties really means New Zealand going to war alongside the United States in other future wars - and potentially other future illegal wars," she says.