Scientists have warned a "megathrust" earthquake could release 2000 times more energy than the 2011 Christchurch earthquake that killed 185 people.
The risk comes from the Hikurangi subduction zone, a fault that runs along East Coast where the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates collide.
Scientists are discussing the risks it poses at a summit in Napier this week. They say it could trigger a massive 8.4 magnitude quake, that would cripple the lower North Island.
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