A report by New Zealand's geoscience research agency has found the nation needs to be better prepared for tsunamis.

The research by GNS Science shows an earthquake could generate a tsunami far earlier than before emergency sirens could be activated.

GNS Geologist, Graham Leonard has told the report closely examines the tsunami risk of New Zealand's coastline.

He says New Zealand's proximity to earthquake fault lines could be problematic.

"It is the ones nearby that we are most worried about because the tsunami can get to us in as little as 10 minutes and a lot of places within less than an hour from these local faults."

"What we have realised gradually over the last eight or so years is that those fault lines can give us really quite large earthquakes and tsunamis, very much like what we saw in Japan in 2011."

GNS Science says the report was prepared for the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and will assist in the development of tsunami evacuation plans for the nation.

Mr Leonard says it will be a valuable tool.

"Those agencies draw evacuation maps, that is the most useful product for the public," he said.

So using these wave heights they can define areas that people need to get out of and they can draw a line so that people know where they are safe once they evacuate after the warning comes."

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