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Brownlee and PM head for Christchurch

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/02/2017

Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has just arrived in Christchurch to assess the fire situation after criticising the length of time it took to declare a state of emergency.

Prime Minister Bill English has cancelled all his appointments and will soon be on his way for an on-the-ground briefing.

More than 1000 people have been forced to flee their homes as the fire rages through Port Hills suburbs.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel and Selwyn District counterpart Sam, Broughton declared the states of emergency on Wednesday night, saying a significant rural fire had become a city issue.

"It's best to say it was a little slow and we will have to look into that," Mr Brownlee told RNZ on Thursday.

"But I don't want to take away from all the work the firefighters are doing, they're all very brave people."

Mr Brownlee will soon by meeting Ms Dalziel.

"I want to make sure anything the government can provide will be provided," he said.

"This is getting serious and the requirement to get that fire out is even more pressing at this point than it has been over the last few days."

Mr English is due to meet Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Queenstown on Friday.

"We're quite concerned, this is a hard-burning fire, people are at risk," he said.

"Everything is being thrown at it."

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