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No place at Te Whatu Ora for graduate nurses

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) is extremely disappointed by Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora’s decision not to match graduates into their nursing workforce.

As part of its ongoing “cost-containment” cuts, Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora is freezing the employment of graduate nurses into the hospital system.

The mid-year intakes of Nurse Entry to Practice and Nurse Entry to Specialist Practice programmes to provide graduates with support and professional development to facilitate their transition during their first year of practice will be paused, apart from those who are recruited externally into specialist services.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter says this move will be incredibly disappointing for nursing graduates and shows a lack of commitment from Te Whatu Ora to grow and develop New Zealand’s nursing workforce.

“Te Whatu Ora previously committed to the permanent employment of new graduates through the Safe Staffing Care Capacity Management Accord. It is outrageous that they are now going back on that agreement.

“We are still in a nursing crisis. As a country we do not train enough nurses to meet our own needs and we rely heavily on internationally qualified nurses to fill the gap. We desperately need more homegrown nurses.

“This move by Te Whatu Ora will reduce our current and future workforce and risks us losing these nurses to other countries. It also puts the education of our new graduates at risk due to not being able to develop skills learnt during training.

“We also need more Māori and Pasifika nurses, so people receive health care that fits with their culture. Nurse Entry to Specialist Practice programmes provide specialised support for Māori and Pasifika new graduates. With the freeze on intakes to these programmes, we will not be adding more of these much-needed nurses to our workforce.

“Some graduate nurses will be able to find employment in other areas of the health system, but they will be disadvantaged by the wage disparity between that work and what they would have earnt within Te Whatu Ora. 

“We know that nursing students face significant barriers to completing their studies, particularly around finances, stress and cultural support – and it’s costing us nearly a third of our new nurses. Not being able to gain employment on graduation will be yet another disincentive to become a nurse.

“We call upon the Government and Te Whatu Ora to reverse this short-sighted decision. We need to encourage New Zealand students to stay in their studies, and being able to be employed at the end of them is critical.

Direct Media Enquiries To:

Please send all media requests in writing to

NZNO communications and media advisors are:

Samesh Mohanlall
021 240 3420  |  04 494 6839

Karen Howarth
027 725 2680  |  04 494 8242


Support and member enquiries: 0800 28 38 48 or