New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 29 August 2022
Members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) will be holding public rallies today in five main centres to call on the Government to ensure Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (formerly the DHBs) urgently provides the funding needed to properly value Aotearoa’s Primary Health Care nurses.
The main centres are Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch and the rallies will run from 12.30 until 1.30pm.
Primary Health Care nurses work in areas of the health system such as General Practice, after-hours emergency centres, Plunket, Māori and iwi health providers, Urgent Care and Family Planning. They have the same qualifications, training and responsibilities as Te Whatu Ora nurses, but are paid significantly less.
A nurse at a medical centre typically earns 10-20 percent less, and nurses working for Māori and iwi providers can earn up to 25 percent less.
Many employers say they want to pay their staff the same rates as Te Whatu Ora nurses, but they can’t do so without increased capitation funding from the Government.
Christchurch-based Primary Health Care nurse Denise Moore says many nurses are leaving Primary Health Care for hospital-based jobs with Te Whatu Ora where they can earn more, and that this is causing real problems for members of the community.
“I don’t blame nurses for leaving Primary Health Care for better pay because it is hard to make ends meet on our wages, but it does make things worse for those who remain because staff numbers are so low and the hours are already long and arduous.
“When employers can’t find new nurses to replace the ones who have left, it means they have to cut services or delay appointments and that affects everyone in the community.”
Registered nurse Gina Chaffey works at a Māori Health provider in Tairawhiti. She says she would never leave her Primary Health Care role because it is about the people.
“He aha te mea nui o te ao? He Tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. Meeting the needs of my people is always paramount and they depend on me. But why is the pay gap for nurses who work in Primary Health Care or for Iwi so big? The Government needs to step up and meet its obligations under te Tiriti.
“Injustice has been a lifetime battle for Māori and pay parity with Te Whatu Ora nurses would be a step towards equality. Like them we studied for our nursing degrees, and we go way beyond the call of duty every day. It just isn’t right that the Government funds one group of nurses more than another.”
At today’s rallies members of the public will be invited to rate the Government’s performance on fairly paying Primary Health Care nurses by placing a sticker on their chosen location on a large Plunket chart. They can also cast a ballot to vote on how well they think the Government is doing at valuing Primary Health Care Nurses.
The rallies will be at the following locations, starting at 12.30pm.
- Auckland: Corner of Memorial Drive and Gt North Road, New Lynn
- Tauranga: Red Square (bottom of Devonport Road)
- Hamilton: Garden Place, Victoria Street
- Wellington: Midland Park, Lambton Quay
- Christchurch: Riverside Market
Media inquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.