The Government is considering whether New Zealand could use the vertical evacuation structures that saved so many lives during the Japanese tsunami in 2011.
Professor David Johnston of GNS Science says the structures are designed to withstand both earthquakes and subsequent tsunami.
"We saw people in purpose built tsunami evac structures that withstood the tsunami and survived.
"They usually use steel or reinforce concrete they need to be strong and to withstand the loads that are imposed on them by the tsunami and tsunamis aren't just water they have a lot of debris and material in them," Mr Johnston said.
A recent simulation shows a Hikurangi subduction zone earthquake could trigger waves of up to 12 metres on the east coast, waves that could arrive in Hawke's Bay within minutes.
Ian McDonald of Hawke's Bay Civil Defence says that large parts of the population in that part of the country won't have time to get out of the inundation area to high ground.
"There is really opportunity for public private partnerships in terms of when people are building structures is it possible for us to bolt on extra on to a building to make it viable to be used as viable as a vert evac structure," Mr McDonald said.