Mayors' war of words with Brownlee over Port Hills state of emergency

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has hit back at Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee's comments that the state of emergency in the Port Hills fire was declared too late.

Mr Brownlee said the most accurate information about the fire on Wednesday came from the media - not officials.

Those in charge of the fire response have "got to learn" from this experience, Mr Brownlee said.

"I was in Wellington, not Christchurch."

Prime Minister Bill English also confirmed there will be a review of the Civil Defence response and the delay in declaring a state of emergency.

"No doubt someone will look at whether the processes should have been different."

However, at a news conference on Thursday, Ms Dalziel and Selwyn District Mayor Sam Broughton disagreed with Mr Brownlee.

"The minister has his own views on what's been done and they'll be debriefed as we've said once this fire's been put out," Mr Broughton said.

"I want to take a full look at what happened and the timing of the decisions that were made, but I don't want to debate that today," Ms Dalziel said.

"Today we are focused on getting the fire under control and making sure our people and properties are safe. There will be a review about the timing of the calling of the state of emergency, but I have to say not one element of the fire effort that has gone on - the firefighting effort - has been affected by that at all."

Ms Dalziel has defended the timing of the decision to call the state of emergency, and rejects claims it took too long.

"From the moment we were advised that people were being evacuated from their houses we set in motion the decision to call the state of emergency," she said.

"There was, I believe, a bit of a breakdown in communications in terms of information that was being supplied, but I have had a full briefing with the mayor of Selwyn and I am satisfied that there is nothing that could have been done would have been done any differently had we called the state of emergency earlier."

She also said it wasn't possible to supply additional aircraft to battle the fires.

"There were no additional resources. It was not possible to put more resources into the air."

 Mr Broughton agreed.

"As far as helicopters go, we are at saturation point in the sky. There's not another helicopter that could fit in the airspace safely," he said.

"As far as the handling of the fire goes I'm confident that what was done and the people involved have been at the right places at the right times."


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