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Govt confident our high rises are safe

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/06/2017

Hard questions will be asked in Britain about why it didn't ban combustible cladding on high rise buildings, says Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith.

Dr Smith banned their use in New Zealand after fires in Melbourne and Dubai but Britain didn't, and the cladding on Grenfell Tower in London burned furiously.

So far it's known that 17 people died in the inferno and the toll is expected to rise.

The type of aluminium-based combustible panels on Grenfell Tower had been around for about a decade but his officials were "reasonably confident" they haven't been used on any high rise buildings here, Dr Smith said.

"After the fires in Melbourne and Dubai with combustible cladding products we needed to ensure they didn't get a hold in New Zealand, that's why I put out a ban notice which came into effect on January 1," he told RNZ on Friday.

"I give my officials credit for seeing this risk and responding, and I think there will be hard questions asked in the UK as to why countries like New Zealand moved to ban these products and they haven't done so."

Dr Smith said he was confident New Zealand's fire safety regulations are fit for purpose.

"But when you have a disaster of this scale you want to kick the tyres and re-check."

Dr Smith has asked ministry officials to check with councils about whether any combustible cladding products were used on high rise buildings before the January 1 ban.

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