Mr Brownlee said his criticism was that if a state of emergency was called earlier people would have treated the situation with more urgency.
"When you're asking people to evacuate, you're asking them to evacuate on a voluntary basis, that's one thing. When you've got a state of civil emergency and you ask people to evacuate they have to do it."
He told Morning Report a state of emergency allowed for compulsory evacuations and triggered higher awareness from other districts to move urgently if they were asked for help.
"The response structure is not the problem the problem is the mechanism for triggering some of those responses" - Gerry Brownlee duration 9′ :01″ from Morning Report
"The response structure is not the problem the problem is the mechanism for triggering some of those responses" - Gerry Brownlee
Most of the fire ended up in the Christchurch district but was being fought from a headquarters in Selwyn district, he said.
Civil defence volunteers and fire service workers did a brilliant job, he said.