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Laihi Beach firefighter Brandon Berg believes his New Zealand Bravery Award belongs to his colleagues just as much as himself.

"I think it is an individual award that represents the whole team, because there is no way that I could have done what I did without knowing the guys had my back," Berg said.

Burgess earned his award for acts of bravery following the collapse of the CTV building during the February 2010 Christchurch earthquake.

Along with a fellow firefighter, Berg tunnelled through rubble and debris of the crushed fourth level of the building to reach survivors.

In places there was only 60 centimetres of clearance, making using breathing apparatus or helmets impracticable. They were eventually able to reach and rescue two women.

Debris had to be passed backwards past the rescuers and down the tunnel, as there was no room to turn around.

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