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Māori Nurses are tired of waiting for equity

Māori nurses are tired of waiting for long-overdue action addressing the 25 percent pay gap between themselves and those working for district health boards.

Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere of Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa/New Zealand Nurses Organisation, says Māori nurses have been pursuing justice for years but have yet to see any concrete change.

"We’ve been on this kaupapa at least since 2006. We’ve spoken to successive governments and presented evidence time and again to action groups and the Waitangi Tribunal about the systemic racism we endure.

"Yet, despite our efforts, all we’ve been receiving is sympathy. What we really need is action."

Ms Nuku says the Government is more than willing to send Māori nurses to fight on the frontline, but that work is not being recognized and they remain at the back of the line when it comes to being valued.

"We are the ones on the ground, on the frontlines, doing the work to dismantle the systemic barriers facing health for our people. Without us, health inequities would be far worse than they are.

"So when will our contribution be acknowledged? When is the Government going to put Māori nurses first?"

Ms Nuku says Māori nurses are again trying to raise their case at the Waitangi Tribunal Mana Wahine inquiry, but says nurses can’t and shouldn’t have to wait until the end of the inquiry for action to happen.

"We keep opening the same wounds and reliving the same trauma for Crown lawyers to argue against, or at best, for politicians to feel bad about.

"But the injustice we face is real and tangible. We are paid drastically less than our Pākehā counterparts, and kaupapa Māori services are chronically underfunded.

"The Government must uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and address the structural racism in the healthcare system. An urgent and crucial step in this is equal pay for Māori Nurses."

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