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Five others were injured in the crash.
Canterbury Metro Area Commander Superintendent Lane Todd said: "This is an absolute tragedy and a horrific outcome."
The pursuit began when a Toyota vehicle failed to stop for police on Papanui Rd about 4am.
Police pursued the vehicle for four minutes through residential streets, Todd said.
"At the intersection of Glandovey Rd and Idris Rd the Toyota collided with a Hyundai driven by a member of the public.
"The driver and sole occupant of the Hyundai sustained critical injuries and was transported to hospital where they sadly died.
"There were five occupants in the Toyota. Initial indications are that one of the occupants has sustained critical injuries and the other four serious to moderate injuries."
A St John spokesman said six people were initially taken to hospital including two in a critical condition, three seriously injured and one person with moderate injuries.
"We have no indication who was from what vehicle or age or gender of the patients," the spokesman said.
Five ambulances and two St John first response vehicles were at the scene.