The Nurses' Association began in a small way. A group of nurses in Wellington formed the Wellington Private Nurses Association in 1905.
Similar groups were later set up in Dunedin, Auckland and Canterbury, and these formed the Trained Nurses' Association, the basis of today's organisation.
Professionalism has been a strong theme since the beginning. An editorial in Kai Tiaki, July 1909, recommended the benefits of fellowship through membership, but immediately warned: "We must, however, guard against any element of trades unionism creeping in among us. A nurse must be a woman, working, not in the first place for the sake of money-making, but for the good of her fellow creatures, to alleviate suffering when she can and help towards the health of those who need her care!" This view predominated, even though the Association did discuss economic welfare. Nurses were dependent on the goodwill of employers in setting wage rates and conditions as no machinery existed for bargaining for improvements.
The Association began to develop an industrial role and was recognised by government as the negotiating body for members' wages and conditions in public hospitals.
Branches were asked to set up representation committees, now called delegates’ committees. After a slow start, the number of committees has grown and they have become accepted as necessary in representing members covered by collective employment agreements.
The NZ Nurses' Union was formed to fight for fair wages and conditions for private sector nurses, who, until this time, had no awards or union to represent them. The Nurses' Union represented members in private hospitals, Nurse Maude, general practices, Plunket, Family Planning and occupational health nurses, as well as educators and counsellors.
Initially the Association and the Union shared offices, then in 1987 the Nurses' Union employed its own staff and set up its own offices until the amalgamation with the Nurses' Association in 1993 to become the New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation.
NZNO was formed on 1 April 1993, as a result of an amalgamation between the Nurses' Association and the Nurses' Union.
Health Professionals New Zealand (HPNZ) division was formed to enable all health professionals to join NZNO, thus it now includes a broad range of health professionals eg medical radiology, technologists, scientific officers, pharmacists and dieticians.
2006 - 2009
We are proud to be celebrating our centenary!
Freed to care: proud to nurse, NZNO’s centennial history authored by Mary Ellen O’Connor, is published. It is a history of nursing in New Zealand and the role that NZNO has played during that time.