The Prime Minister today said a new government department could be set up to deal with rebuilding Christchurch.

John Key said the Government was going to play a leading role because no city council in New Zealand had the capability and the bureaucratic support to do what needed in the next two to five years.

The Government was "in the final stages" of deciding how the work would be managed, he said on TV One's Q&A programme.

"It is likely to see the minister in charge, Gerry Brownlee, have a responsibility and have a department that can support him."

Mr Key said all the resources that were going into Christchurch had to be co-ordinated and it was very important that people who lived there had a part to play.

"The feedback we've had from businesses, the feedback we've had from individuals on the ground and, in fact, from the council is you need the full support of those various government departments that feed into Christchurch," he said.

"The right vehicle for that is something we're working on."

Mr Key also said the Government was looking for 2500 modular homes which could be erected on public land to house people who had been displaced and the influx of workers likely to arrive in the city.

"That housing will be used to temporarily accommodate people while they're out of their initial home," he said.

"We think potentially up to 5000 homes may be required on a temporary basis."

He said the Government on Friday sent out requests for proposals to companies producing modular homes for about 2500 buildings.

Asked how long it would take, Mr Key said there wasn't an exact timeframe but it would be months, not years.

"Not all of that capability, not all 2500 homes, will be able to be delivered on day one," he said.

"But there is quite a lot of capability around the country and we're working with those building companies that can supply that for us."

He said there were also about 150 campervans available and another 300 were on standby.

EQC fast tracking earthquake assessments

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is putting 350 assessors on the ground in Christchurch this week to ramp up its inspections of houses with the worst damage following last month's 6.3 earthquake.

EQC started its rapid assessment programme, designed to give people with damaged houses more certainty faster, on March 11 with 150 assessors, EQC spokesperson Bryan Dunne said.

"The purpose is to identify properties in need of emergency repairs and prioritise properties for a full assessment over the coming months.

"Rapid assessments started in the areas with the worst damage and assessors are completing several thousand properties each day."

Full assessments focussed on properties where damage was likely to be more than $100,000, Mr Dunne said.

It had received 75,000 claims from the February 22 earthquake as of Friday.

"The priority of EQC is to make houses secure, weather-tight or habitable with a focus on winter heating issues or houses where residents may be sick and elderly."

EQC was "ahead of where we hoped to be at this stage, but still have a lot of work to do", he said.

People had until May 23 to lodge a claim.

- NZPA