Drop, cover, hold - everyone knows the drill and the national ShakeOut event is a way to encourage people to practice it and have it down pat in case a natural emergency does strike.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group manager Ian Macdonald said ShakeOut was held across the world to remind people of the right action to take during an earthquake and tsunami.

"Wherever you are at 1.30pm on October 17, you can take part in the drill – just drop, cover and hold for up to one minute, and practice your tsunami hīkoi to your safe location if you live, work or play in a tsunami evacuation zone."

So far, around 14,000 people in Hawke's Bay have registered to do the "drop, cover and hold" drill next Thursday.

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Young people are leading the charge with around 1700 pre-schoolers, 8400 school kids and 1100 tertiary students registered.

Macdonald said ShakeOut was the perfect opportunity for families, schools, businesses and individuals to practise what they need to do in an earthquake and tsunami.

"All of New Zealand is at risk of earthquakes and all of our coastline is at risk of tsunami.

"We can't predict when one will happen, or where we will be, but we can protect ourselves and our families by practising what to do," Macdonald said.

"We know now more about ever before about seismic risks such as the Hikurangi subduction zone, the alpine fault and the Kermadec trench.

"ShakeOut will help make drop, cover, hold second nature, while giving us a chance to practise our tsunami hīkoi evacuation routes."

Hawke's Bay experienced a series of earthquakes this past week, including a fairly noticeable 5.4 magnitude quake on October 1.

According to leading seismologist John Ristau, of national research institute GNS Science, the swarm of quakes is not unusual.

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Ristau was speaking as the swarm in the area about 30km east of Wairoa, where the bigger quake was recorded on October 1, the first in a swarm that rose to over 70 in seven days.

There had also been a considerable number of other quakes north and south of the area, including several east of Hastings, the biggest also at 3.5 magnitude.

Ristau said the public perception that the swarm was a settling down process was correct.

"The east coast is one of the more seismically active areas, and you do get certain hot-spots," he said.

"They are what we call normal faulting.

"There hasn't been too much analysis of it yet, but a large number aftershocks could have been expected for an earthquake of that size (the October 1 shake)."

He said it tended to be the bigger the quake, the more tremors that followed.

"There's nothing unusual about it," he said.

To ensure you are ready when the next quake happens register for ShakeOut, visit www.shakeout.govt.nz.