'You could not miss it' – Gisborne mayor recounts being woken by severe 7.1 magnitude earthquake

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz has described today's early morning earthquake off the East Cape coast as a "decent, decent shake" which lasted about a minute.

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Rehette Stoltz says the 7.1 magnitude jolt lasted for about a minute. Source: Breakfast

"You could not miss it," she told Breakfast this morning.

"The earthquake lasted for quite some time, I would say close to a minute, even longer. But official results will tell us how long it was, but it was a decent shake for long time."

The quake, which struck at 2.27am, 105km east of Te Araroa at a depth of 90km, was felt by over 52,000 people around New Zealand.

Stoltz said it was usually difficult to get her teenagers out of bed, but that after the jolt her family was shaken awake.

"It was all go at my household."

Stoltz said teams were going out to check for any structural damage this morning, including storm water and waste water pipes.

As of yet, there are reports of "little bits of damage, nothing major at this stage", she said.

A tsunami warning was sent out after the earthquake advising people in the area to immediately evacuate, however the threat has now been lifted.

Stolz said she's pleased with how the community responded, especially with Tairāwhiti residents self evacuating before official advice was issued.

"I'm so proud because we teach kids and our community 'if it's long or strong be gone' because if it's a local earthquake you need to self evacuate, you cannot wait for any advice."

However, while the tsunami warning has been lifted, Stolz still told residents to keep clear of beaches and listen to official advice from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)/Civil Defence.

Anyone concerned about damage, including to roads or pipes, is encouraged to contact Gisborne District Council.