Why New Zealand does not pay ransoms for hostages

The New Zealand Government reconsidered its strict no ransom policy after the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) kidnapped Kiwi nurse Louisa Akavi in 2013.

At the time, 3 News learnt that then Prime Minister John Key and his cabinet had talked about Akavi's ransom - but decided not to change the policy. A senior source said "that to negotiate once, would endanger others forever".

At the peak of its power, hostages were a cash machine for the Islamic State. In 2014 the United Nations estimated it received $57 million in ransoms.

But New Zealand - like the United States and United Kingdom - has a cast-iron policy of not negotiating with terrorists. The official line is: "It is New Zealand Government policy not to pay ransoms, or accede to hostage takers or kidnappers' demands to modify its foreign, defence or security policies."

However, European governments like France, Italy and Spain do pay - and have secured the release of hostages held by IS.

Such moves have angered the US and UK. Then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron said, "We shouldn't let terrorists change our policy or our approach to this appalling problem of ISIS in Iraq and Syria."

IS provoked global debate about ransom payments after the beheading of American journalist James Foley. His mother said it was time to change the no ransom policy, and that his country had let him down.

There have been known cases of New Zealanders held hostage for ransom.

In 1998, engineer Stan Shaw was captured in Chechnya by gunman. A ransom was demanded, but not paid, and three months later he was found beheaded.

In 2001, Nelson oil worker Dennis Corrin was held in Ecuador for 141 days. A $30 million ransom was paid for him and 10 colleagues, which then-Prime Minister Helen Clark denounced, saying the New Zealand Government did not pay ransoms.

In 2005, Harmeet Sooden was taken hostage in Iraq. His captors wanted all Iraqi prisoners in the United States freed, but Sooten was rescued after a British Special Forces raid - although he suspected a ransom was also involved.

As she had four years earlier, Clark denied any Government role and underlined the policy of not paying a ransom.