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Student nurses angered by recruitment restrictions

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) have voiced concerns about Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora restricting the employment of graduate nurses into their workforce due to budget constraints.

Health NZ Te Whatu Ora say the number of graduate nurses employed by them will depend on the number of vacancies. They note that in some nursing specialties there are currently more graduate expressions of interest than they are likely to have vacancies but that graduates may also be employed in primary care or aged residential care.

Student nurses are voicing their anger and disappointment that graduate nurses are no longer guaranteed a job once they complete their studies.

Student Nurse Shannyn Bristowe says New Zealand nursing students study for three years with the expectation they will be able to get a good job with the structures in place to become the nurses they want to be.

"It is incredibly frustrating that after working towards my aspirations to become a nurse, with a flick of a pen, a pause on the processes for mid-year intake of Nurse Entry to Practice and Nurse Entry to Specialist Practice graduate nurses, was released. The timing is poor given all the financial struggles and burdens it has taken for me to become a nurse. It was demoralising and disenchanting that my dream to work in Te Whatu Ora is now on ‘pause’.

"I have chosen not to work in primary health due to pay disparities between Te Whatu and primary health, Māori and Iwi providers that are up to 30% less than nurses working in Te Whatu Ora.

"The workforce of the future felt the full impact of the statement yesterday. I know this as I fielded multiple calls last night to console nursing students, I know that no words can express the rage and anger I felt inside and how they have intentionally trampled on the mana of the future workforce. How can we believe that these people are in a position to help us?

"It is disheartening, nevertheless that we see this Government put budgets and tax rebates before the health and wellbeing of the people. Have they lost touch with reality and who they are meant to lead. My wero (challenge) to the Government is 'He aha te mea nui tea o? He tangata he tangata, he tangata! What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people!", says Ms Bristowe.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter says that Te Whatu Ora have a budget in place, and they cannot go past that budget cap on recruitment.

"Nursing graduates will now be less likely to gain employment. Previously, hospitals would employ New Zealand trained graduate nurses as they came out of their degree programmes.

"It’s one thing to say that graduates may also be employed primary care or aged residential care, but the problem is that there are very few positions in those areas, they are lower paid, and these roles may not have the structures in place to support and develop graduate nurses as they transition during their first year of practice.

"We need to grow and develop New Zealand’s nursing workforce. Restricting the employment of graduate nurses into the Te Whatu Ora workforce is a serious risk to the future of that workforce."

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


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