WELLINGTON:- New Zealand issued a "potential" tsunami warning Friday after a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake stuck off the east coast of the North Island.  The shallow tremor was estimated at a depth of around 30 kilometres (18 miles) off the coast, some 167 kilometres from Gisborne, according to the US Geological Survey said. New Zealand's civil defence organisation, responsible for the nation's emergency management, said it had issued "a tsunami potential threat advisory in all New Zealand coastal areas". Radio New Zealand reported that residents in coastal areas of the East Cape region were being advised by local civil defence officials to evacuate.–AFP

Civil defence public information officer Sheridan Gundry said the emergency management centre has been activated.

The earthquake, which struck at 4:37am (1637 GMT) was felt over much of the country but there were no immediate reports of damage and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a warning.

New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called "Ring of Fire", and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.