Deep sea buoys such as those used by the United States would give New Zealand early warning of a tsunami, the former Minister of Civil Defence says.
Labour MP Rick Barker says the United States has buoys placed off the coast of Alaska and Chile which give adequate warning in the event of a tsunami.
Mr Barker says the weakness of New Zealand's system of buoys around the coast is that when they measure the tsunami it has already arrived, while deep sea buoys give an early warning.
He says the New Zealand has new ships which would give it the capacity to service the buoys.
The Royal New Zealand Navy has new inshore patrol vessels but its multi-role off shore patrol vessels Otago and Wellington are still in Melbourne and the subject of contract issues.
Ministry of Civil Defence chief executive John Hamilton says it is for the Government to decide whether risk is balanced by the cost of installing and maintaining such a system.
Civil Defence Minister John Carter has said the civil defence response to the tsunami in the South Pacific this week was not good enough and has ordered a review.