Nursing reports

Nurses stop work to consider Te Whatu Ora offer

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 26 May 2023

Nurses who are members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO), and who work for Te Whatu Ora, will be stopping work for two hours to attend one of 57 meetings being held across the country from 29 May to 2 June.

The meetings are so these nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora can review the latest offer from Te Whatu Ora and discuss their next steps in the bargaining process.

In bargaining NZNO members have asked for (claimed) a pay rise that matches the rate of inflation (currently 6.7 percent) but Te Whatu Ora’s offer of $4000 this year across all rates and a further 3 percent next year falls well short of this figure.

However, Te Whatu Ora has not at all addressed members’ claims around the significant issue of safe staffing and their wellbeing at work – such as implementing a ratio-based staffing safety net and supporting health and safety representatives at work.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said the meetings are expected to be very well-attended by members expressing strong views.

“Members would much rather be at work focussing on their patients but we’re holding these meetings to decide what to do next because Te Whatu Ora’s offer will not help them deliver the levels of care their patients deserve.

“We are at a time when Aotearoa desperately needs nurses and other health workers. Pay and conditions that recognise their value would make nursing more attractive and help keep the nurses we have.  

“Right now nurses do not feel safe coming into work and, ultimately, patients will pay the price for hospitals that are continuously understaffed and under-resourced.”

Paid stop work meetings are a right for Te Whatu Ora nurses according to their collective agreement and the Employment Relations Act. Members are entitled to stop work for up to two hours on full pay (if they would ordinarily be working).

Many of the meetings will be held off site, with buses transporting members to the venues. Members leaving workplaces will be carrying banners and demonstrating on their way to the meetings and back again.

Paul Goulter says the meetings will not be about voting on the offer or on industrial action.

“The bargaining team does not think the offer meets member expectations and the meetings are part of our democratic process for receiving member feedback.”


Background facts

  • Around 57 meetings have been arranged at various locations around the country from 29 May to 2 June. A full chart of meetings times and venues is attached. Journalists will not be able to attend the meetings but may wish to interview and photograph/film members arriving at or leaving meetings.
  • Knowledgeable local NZNO delegates are available to speak with journalists and tell their stories on request.
  • The purpose of the stop work meetings is for NZNO members who work for Te Whatu Ora to review the latest offer from Te Whatu Ora and to discuss next steps in the bargaining process.
  • Collective bargaining is a democratic process where, at every stage, members collectively determine the next steps.  These meetings are part of that process.
  • Members asked for (claimed) a pay offer that matched inflation (currently 6.7 percent).
  • The Te Whatu Ora offer is for a $4,000 pay rise this year, followed by either three percent next year, or $2,000, whichever is higher. This falls considerably short of the claim.
  • Members have also made claims around significant safe staffing issues and this matter is not addressed at all in the offer from Te Whatu Ora.
  • The current collective agreement between NZNO and Te Whatu Ora expired in October 2022 and we have been in bargaining since before that time.
  • These meetings are in paid time for members who would ordinarily be working at that time (two hours; one for the meeting and up to one for travel).
  • The meetings are not industrial action or a strike. NZNO members are entitled to these meetings under Section 26 of the Employment Relations Act, and clause 21 of their collective agreement.
  • The meetings are not for ratification of the offer.
  • Members travelling to and from meetings away from their worksite will be demonstrating and waving banners and flags.
  • Very high attendance is expected at the meetings.

Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 |

New general practice wage funding welcome move in right direction

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa  (NZNO) welcomes today’s announcement by Health Minister Ayesha Verrall that general practice, community and other nurses outside of Te Whatu Ora will be included in new funding to reduce pay disparities from July.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says this is a good step in the right direction and that Hon Dr Verrall gets right to the heart of the matter when she says nurses with the same skillsets and experience should receive comparable pay regardless of where they practise.

“Currently pay rates for nurses and kaiāwhina working for Te Whatu Ora significantly outstrip the wages of other nurses in settings like Primary Health Care and this causes a real problem.

“Retention of staff has been a major challenge for general practices and community providers because, like anybody else, nurses will go where the money is when they are struggling financially. This causes huge inequities in the community and then emergency departments because access to care is reduced.”

Ms Nuku says the evidence for the pay gaps has been there for some time, much of it provided by NZNO, but this move towards Pay Parity is still welcome.

“Obviously we still have a long way to go in terms of closing the pay gaps that remain and our concern now is that the funding is targeted according to need.

“For example many Māori providers missed out on funding for Māori and iwi in the last tranche of funding because they are technically general practices, and this may help address that oversight – especially in terms of the important cultural overlay Māori nurses bring, which is often overlooked or taken for granted.”

Ms Nuku said it would be good for NZNO, as the main advocate for all nurses, and the Ministry to share data to help identify where that money should be targeted and to help ensure it all truly goes to the workers.

“This is a good move, but we are still only talking about a target of being whin 95 percent of Te Whatu Ora wages. This is unlikely to get us even to that figure.

“We say the target should be 100 percent Pay Parity so every nurse everywhere is equally valued, and so nurses can work where they feel they are most needed and contribute best, not where they are best paid.”

Employment Court upholds nurses’ right to strike over health and safety

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 23 May 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the absolutely vital right of workers to strike over health and safety matters has been upheld with the Employment Court dismissing a Te Whatu Ora application to stop a one-hour health and safety strike planned by nurses working is Ward 5 at Gisborne Hospital.

However, just as important, says NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter, is the moral victory.

“These are exhausted nurses who have given everything they have for their patients for an extended period of time, and they have finally reached breaking point.

“Nurses right across the health system are not currently safe at work and to have denied them the right to strike over health and safety concerns would have been an intolerable injustice.

“These Gisborne nurses have been raising concerns for more than nine months, and, as the judge pointed out during the hearing, Te Whatu Ora had not managed to change anything at all to help them. This is simply not good enough from one of the country’s largest employers.”

NZNO Ward 5 delegate at Gisborne Hospital Christine Warrander said it was bewildering that Te Whatu Ora chose to expend thousands in resources and taxpayer’s money on fighting a one-hour strike, instead of putting those resources towards fixing the significant health and safety problem they have.

“Despite overwhelming evidence of physical and emotional trauma from the affidavits we gave in evidence, Te Whatu Ora still tried to argue that our workplace is safe.

“It simply isn’t safe, and it is our patients’ wellbeing that is most at risk. Things have got to change before something goes seriously goes wrong that ends a nurse’s career and has lifelong consequences for people.”

The one-hour health and safety strike will go ahead from 1.30-2.30pm tomorrow (24 May 2023). Ward 5 staff will leave the hospital, to demonstrated support by their health worker colleagues (including nurses and other health workers from other wards) to join a rally directly across the road from the Gisborne Hospital.

There will be speakers at the rally, which will also be attended by community supporters, other NZNO members and other unions.

Media and the public are welcome to attend.


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 |

New Scope Statement supports full potential of Enrolled Nurses

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE: The Nursing Council of New Zealand/The New Zealand Nurses Organisation

Te Kaunihera Tapuhi o Aotearoa The Nursing Council of New Zealand today launched a new Enrolled Nurse Scope Statement, setting the scene for change in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The new statement has been developed in collaboration with the Enrolled Nurse Section of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO).

NZNO Enrolled Nurse Section Chair Michelle Prattley says the statement will benefit both nurses and people who use health services in Aotearoa.

"Enrolled Nurses will be able to practice in a wide range of health care services with this less restrictive scope of practice and enrolled nurses have lobbied for these changes."

The new statement has been prepared by a design group including representatives of the Council, Te Poari o Te Rūnanga o Aotearoa, enrolled nurses themselves, and employers and educators of enrolled nurses.

"Enrolled nurses are skilled nursing professionals in their own right," said Catherine Byrne, Chief Executive of the Nursing Council. "They can work across a wide range of possible practice areas and settings, and this statement recognises that."

Key changes in the new statement include stronger recognition of Te Ao Māori, including Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Kawa Whakaruruhau framework, and moving from listing specific tasks to a flexible description of practice that reflects an EN’s education and experience. The new statement also shifts the relationship between enrolled and registered nurses (RNs) from ‘direction and delegation’ by an RN to a focus on support and guidance.

The development of this new statement is part of a full Review of the Enrolled Nurse Scope of Practice. The next step in this Review will look at the competencies which describe the skills, knowledge, and behaviours needed to be a safe and competent enrolled nurse, and the education standards that govern Enrolled Nurse programmes. The new statement, competencies, and standards will come into full effect at the beginning of 2024.

"With the Pae Ora and vocational education reforms, the systems in which nurses practise and are educated are both experiencing their most dramatic transformation in decades." Said Byrne.

"How we describe Enrolled Nurse practice and learning needs to support this, enabling these nurses to contribute fully to the health and wellbeing of people, their whānau, and communities. Moving to a focus on partnership and collaboration with RNs and the wider health care team is important and should reduce confusion that might have in the past stopped health employers from realising the possible value of enrolled nurses."

Enrolled Nurses are one of three types or ‘scopes’ of nurses in Aotearoa New Zealand, alongside Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners. They complete an 18-month Diploma qualification rather than a Bachelors Degree, and are expected to work with the support of a Registered Nurse or other regulated health practitioner. At 31 March 2023 there were 2,409 enrolled nurses representing 3.5% of the nursing workforce.

The Nursing Council regulates nursing practice and education under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, including managing complaints against nurses. A person must be registered with the Council and maintain an Annual Practising Certificate in order to work as a nurse in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Enrolled Nurse Scope Statement

Enrolled Nursing in Aotearoa New Zealand reflects knowledge, concepts, and worldviews of both tangata whenua and tangata tiriti. Enrolled nurses uphold and enact Te Tiriti o Waitangi ngā mātāpono - principles, based within the Kawa Whakaruruhau framework for cultural safety, that promote equity, inclusion, and diversity.

Enrolled Nurses are accountable and responsible for their nursing practice, ensuring all health services they provide are consistent with their education and assessed competence, legislative requirements, and are supported by appropriate standards. This includes the right of Māori and other population groups to quality services that are culturally safe and culturally responsive.

The Enrolled Nurse works in partnership and collaboration with the health consumer, their whānau, communities, and the wider healthcare team to deliver equitable person/ whānau/ whakapapa-centred general nursing care, advocacy, and health promotion across the life span in all settings. An Enrolled Nurse’s practice is informed by their level of educational preparation and practice experience, and may include a leadership or coordination role within the healthcare team.

Enrolled Nurses partner with health and disability support consumers to initiate care, monitor, and enhance health status through nursing assessments, care planning, implementation, and evaluation of care. Enrolled Nurses work with access to and seek, when appropriate, guidance from a Registered Nurse or other registered health practitioner.-

- A health practitioner is a person who is registered under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 - for example a midwife, medical practitioner or occupational therapist.:


For more information contact:

Rob Zorn | Communications and Media Advisor, New Zealand Nurses Organisation

Email:, Tel: +64 (0)4 494 8242, Mobile: +64 (0)27 431 2617

Te Whatu Ora takes legal action to stop Gisborne nurses strike

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 21 May 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says Te Whatu Ora has applied for an interim injunction to stop a one-hour health and safety strike by its desperate Ward 5 (Acute Medical) nurses at Gisborne Hospital.

The 24 staff planned to strike from 1.30pm-2.30pm on Wednesday 24 May and on 12 May had already negotiated an agreement, signed off by Te Whatu Ora, over provision of life preserving services, including a protocol for management of emergencies.

NZNO says it will oppose the interim injunction and the hearing will take place on Monday 22 May at 10am in Wellington.

NZNO delegate at Ward 5 Christine Warrander said this was a small-scale strike, by a small number of exhausted staff for a short period of time – and that it was motivated by genuine fears for their own and patient wellbeing.

“We took this action as a last-ditch effort to be heard after repeated pleas for help had fallen on deaf ears.”

A provisional improvement notice (PIN) was issued back in December 2022 for Ward 5 in response to health and safety concerns including acute staff shortages, untenable workloads, staff stress, increased sick leave, burn out and resignations.

But the situation has only become worse since the PIN was issued, Ms Warrander said.

“Our asks are simple, such as reducing beds from 25 down to 20 to make workloads more manageable, but instead of acknowledging they have a serious problem and addressing it, we feel like we’re being strong-armed and silenced.

“Staff morale is at an all time low and my colleagues and I are genuinely anxious about coming into work every day.”

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said this “at best heavy-handed” response in the middle of a crisis, where the wellbeing of both patients and nurses is seriously at risk, does not reflect well on Te Whatu Ora as an employer.

“Our members right across the motu are experiencing the same dismissive response to their concerns and calls for help, and they’re just asked to do more and more until that becomes the norm. This just cannot carry on because people’s wellbeing is at risk, and our members have the right to strike in a situation like this.”

He said there had been an outpouring of support from nurses around the country for the courage and determination of the Ward 5 staff.

“Nurses across the health system feel like their situation is very similar and they’re angry and disappointed that Te Whatu Ora has tried to prevent a very legitimate and justified strike.

“These nurses just want to get this dangerous situation in their ward fixed because they care about their patients. This response from Te Whatu Ora will only ensure things continue to worsen.”

He said NZNO would always be happy to sit down with Te Whatu Ora to discuss this situation further.


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 |

New winter health plan a good start, but needs to go further

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 4 May 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the 2023 Winter Plan to erase pressure on the health system includes some helpful initiatives but does not strike at the heart of the problem.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says pushing services out into the community to alleviate hospital overcrowding is good in theory but that this can only work if we have the people and resources available to do that.

“Sadly we know that the greatest problem we have right now is a lack of personnel and my fear is that this will only exacerbate the problem we have where the quality of health services you receive depends on your postcode.”

Ms Nuku said the focus on receiving care at the right time and at the right place is laudable, but unfortunately hospital will be the “right place” for many people this winter and the Government plan fails to address existing staffing issues that are seriously undermining the standard of care in our hospitals.

“How are we going to ensure we have enough nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi to meet the growing demand on our hospitals that comes each winter?

“There is nothing about a safety plan and payments implemented for all additional shifts and hours worked in recognition of the extra burden winter places on our members.

“In fact this is something we have asked for in our bargaining and Te Whatu Ora has turned us down.”

Ms Nuku said that while the winter plan includes some good initiatives, it fails to address the heart of the matter which is the nursing shortage and recognition of the value of the nursing workforce.

“This winter will be especially challenging and we need to get beyond making adjustments that shift the burden and keep focusing on real and lasting solutions: valuing nurses and doing everything we can to recruit more.”


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 |

NZNO research shows clear pay disparity for general practice nurses

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 22 April 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation is today launching the findings of its March pay disparity survey researching wages paid to members working in general practice (medical centre) settings.

In the survey, 1135 general practice nurses responded to questions about their qualifications, experience, positions and base hourly rates. These rates were then compared to rates currently paid to nurses employed by Te Whatu Ora.

Despite claims by former Health Minister Andrew Little that there was no evidence of a pay disparity between general practice and Te Whatu Ora nurses, the survey shows one third of registered nurses in general practice were currently paid minimum rates between 22 and 27 percent ($5.77 and $9.68 per hour) less than their Te Whatu Ora colleagues.

On average, general practice nurses were paid 14-20.8 percent (between $5.14 and $7.88) less per hour than their Te Whatu Ora counterparts.

The survey found that only 31 out of the 952 registered and enrolled nurses who responded were paid higher rates than their Te Whatu Ora counterparts (just over three percent).

Enrolled nurses were paid up to $6.75 (26 percent) per hour less than their Te Whatu Ora counterparts, and registered nurses were paid up to $9.68 (27 percent) less per hour.

The average wages of nurse prescribers and nurse manager respondents were also below the rates currently paid to an equivalent Te Whatu Ora nurse.

The survey was conducted by NZNO professional researchers and Primary Health Care nurse Denise Moore says the findings show there is a demonstrable pay disparity between general practice and Te Whatu Ora nurses.

“That we have twice been excluded from the Government’s funding to address pay disparities is manifestly unjust. It devalues general practice nurses who were essential to the fight against Covid and whose role it is to help keep people out of our overcrowded hospitals.

“Nurses are leaving general practice in unprecedented numbers because they cannot make ends meet financially, and Government telling them they don’t need a pay rise has been the last straw for many.”

Ms Moore said nurses leaving is having a significant impact on the availability of health services in the community and putting increased pressure on our hospitals as many now see the hospital emergency department as their only option for care.

“If the Government wants to focus patients towards Primary Health Care to rebalance the health system away from hospitals, it makes no sense to leave practice nurses out of any funding set aside for pay increases.

“This is something the Government must address without delay. We are losing nurses at a rapid rate and poor wages mean we cannot compete when trying to replace them. This all comes at a great cost to the health and wellbeing of people in Aotearoa New Zealand.”


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 /

Nurses to rally for health crisis fix on Saturday

Thousands of nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora, alongside their whānau and communities, will Maranga Mai! Rise Up! to rally on Saturday in 20 locations around the country. They will be calling on political parties to have policies to address the nursing and health crisis in this election year.

The rallies, organised by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO), will see these essential workers, their friends and their families taking action by joining together to march, hear speeches, wave banners and enjoy family-focused activities, between 11am and 1pm in most places.

This is the first time all 57,000 NZNO members are being called to rise up for united action, regardless of the area of nursing they work in (hospitals, aged care, Māori and Iwi, Primary Health Care, Plunket, Hospice etc) because, NZNO says, the issues boil down to the same things for every nurse, everywhere: unsafe staffing levels and a fundamental undervaluing of the work they do.

The purpose of the rallies is for health workers and communities to call on politicians and their parties to have policies this election year to address the nursing crisis and for health to top their list of election priorities.

"So much has been asked of nurses, and they have delivered like the courageous and professional workforce they are, right across the Health Sector," said NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter.

"But decades of poor planning, inadequate funding and outright neglect across successive governments have led us to a time of absolute crisis in terms of pay, staffing resources and morale across the nursing sector."

He said just about any nurse you speak to will say patients are not receiving adequate care.

"That’s worrying for our elderly and infirm but it’s also soul-destroying for nurses. Add to that poor conditions, chronic overwork and the Government’s refusal to settle outstanding pay issues, and it’s no wonder thousands have left for Australia and thousands more are making plans to leave."

Paul Goulter said the nursing crisis can be fixed, but that the Government needs to stop pussy-footing around.

"We need 4000-5000 more nurses; it’s as simple as that. So we want to see everything possible being done without delay.

"We need better pay and conditions now, so nurses are valued and stop leaving; free training and other incentives for nursing students - a third of whom drop out because we make it too hard to qualify; more Māori and Pasifika nurses; and a health system that upholds te Tiriti so people get culturally appropriate care and inequities are reduced."

NZNO will also be launching a petition at the rallies calling on political parties to commit to fixing the nursing crisis and Paul Goulter said it is intended that the petition response will be massive.

"This is a chance for the public in Aotearoa New Zealand to express their concerns for the wellbeing of our nurses and their concerns about the future of our health system.

"The crisis is worsening by the day but it can be fixed with commitment and courage; and we want the public’s help in sending that message to those wanting our votes in 2023."


More information:

- Media advisories will also be sent to media at regions where rallies will be held.

- Spokespeople will be available at the rallies and interviews can be arranged in advance (email

- Journalists are welcome to report on and participate in the rallies (and to sign the petition).

Rallies will be held in the following locations.

Kaitāia 11am-1pm - Gather at the old Warehouse Carpark, 11 Matthews Avenue, Kaitāia for the rally with speeches, petition-signing and then whānau time.

Rawene 11am-1pm - Gather at the Boat Ramp Carpark, 5 Clendon Esplanade, Rawene for the rally with speeches, petition-signing and then whānau time.

Kerikeri 11am-1pm - Gather outside the ANZ Bank, corner of Kerikeri Road and Fairway Drive, rally with speeches, gather signatures on petition, then whānau time.

Whangārei 11am-1pm - Gather at Pūtahi Park, Town Basin (next to the Canopy Bridge). Rally with speeches then whānau time with activities (BYO picnic lunch).

Dargaville 11am-1pm - Gather at Countdown/The Warehouse Carpark, Victoria Street, Dargaville, then speeches followed by fun and whānau activities.

Auckland 11am-2pm - Gather at Myers Park, from 10.30am; march from Myers Park to Auckland Domain. Rally with speeches then whānau time with kai at Auckland Domain.

Hamilton11am-1pm - Gather at Hamilton Gardens, Cobham Drive (Rose Garden side near the playground and rotunda by gate 2 entrance and carpark). BYO picnic and join together for speeches, activities, kai and music.

Tauranga11am-1pm - Gather at NZNO Car Park, Tauranga. Hikoi from NZNO Offices 141 Cameron Road, Tauranga to The Strand and back, stopping at Hairy Maclary park and Red Square. Return to NZNO for speeches, kai and refreshments. FREE Parking available at 94 Durham Street carpark building.

Whakatāne 11am-1pm - Gather at Wharaurangi, the Strand, for rally and speeches.

Gisborne 11am-2pm - Gather at Heipipi park from 10am; march from Heipipi Park to Kelvin Park at 11am; rally with speeches then whānau time.

Palmerston North 11am-1pm - Picnic in The Square. Bring your own food and join in the activities.

Masterton 11am-1pm - Meet at Town Hall Square. Bring a picnic, your family and a chair.

Wellington 11am-1pm - Gather at Civic Square, march to Parliament, then speeches followed by BYO picnic, music and face painting.

Nelson 11am-1pm - Gather at Tahunanui Beach, behind the Nightingale Memorial Library, then speeches followed by fun and whānau activities.

Blenheim 11am-1pm - Gather in Seymour Square, 37 Seymour St

Kaikōura 11am-1pm - Gather at the Esplanade opposite Dolphin Encounter.

Christchurch 11am-1pm - Gather at Bridge of Remembrance for march to Victoria Square, then speeches at Victoria Square followed by fun and whānau activities.

Ashburton 11am-1pm - Meet at the BBQ area in Ashburton Domain for the rally and a free sausage sizzle.

Dunedin 11am-1pm - Gather at First Church for march to the Octagon, then speeches followed by fun and whānau activities.

Invercargill 11am-Noon - Gather at the Gala Street Reserve.


For more information contact:

Rob Zorn | Communications and Media Advisor, New Zealand Nurses Organisation

Email:, Tel: +64 (0)4 494 8242, Mobile: +64 (0)27 431 2617

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Leaked staff survey shows focus change needed at Te Whatu Ora

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 5 April 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says it is not surprised that a leaked staff survey shows widespread lack of confidence that Te Whatu Ora restructuring will be of any benefit. The report reveals staff are feeling under-resourced and undervalued instead.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said it appears Te Whatu Ora has become bound up in the changes and taken its eye off the crucial frontline.

“Nurses are feeling that disrespect every day. They’ve been working their guts out for years with little recognition of their value or contribution.

“Is it any wonder that 5000 have shown interest in moving to Australia in the last six months? That’s 5000 people whose main job it is to keep you and me alive and well.

“Is Te Whatu Ora, and the Government taking that seriously? We’re just not seeing any evidence of that, and it’s soul destroying for nurses.”

Paul Goulter says nurses are typically asked to do more and more to keep their workplaces running until overwork becomes the norm. Yet when they ask for resources or report abuse they feel ignored by senior management.

“Why would you want to keep working under those circumstances? Why wouldn’t you head off to greener pastures for better pay, better recognition and less stress? That’s what many of our members who have left for Australia are saying.”

He says if Te Whatu Ora wants to be taken seriously, it must address these short-term problems.

“The last thing we need is another winter of discontent, but that is exactly what’s coming. A complete change of focus is required and Te Whatu Ora needs to make keeping the nurses it has as its first priority – and that means showing them respect and paying them adequately.

“Next we have got to put massive resources into recruiting more nursing staff into training now, and removing the financial and logistical barriers that stop many nursing students graduating.

“Then we’ve got to sort out long-standing pay problems like Pay Equity for Te Whatu Ora nurses, and Pay Parity right across the health sector. We cannot afford not to do this or there won’t be any nurses left, and we’ll have no one ready to replace those who have already moved on.”


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.

NZNO welcomes new Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 31 January 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) welcomes Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall to the Minister of Health role.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said the organisation and its members are looking forward to working with Ms Verrall in addressing years of neglect by successive governments that have resulted in acute staffing shortages and poor working conditions that affect patient safety and threaten the future of the nursing profession in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“We know Ms Verrall is aware of the urgent need to lift the number of trained and qualified nurses and to ensure pay and conditions are equal across the health system.

“Our hope is that, with the Government’s recently stated commitment to health, we can begin to meet nurses’ values and expectations so the right numbers of nurses are attracted into training and onto placements, and that those already in the profession will want to stay.

“In particular we look forward to working with Ms Verrall to increase number of Māori and Pasifika nurses and to building a Tiriti-based health system that is culturally appropriate so all communities receive the care they need.”

However, Paul Goulter said the ongoing pay equity dispute and lack of pay parity, where every nurse everywhere has the same pay and conditions according to their qualifications and experience, are among the biggest challenges the new Minister of Health will face this election year.

“The lack of pay parity results in acute shortages of nurses in various sectors, as they move into the higher paid parts of health or leave the sector entirely.

“This means some sectors, such as Primary Health Care, Māori and iwi, Aged Care etc, cannot find or keep staff which leads to shortages that reduce health services in communities leading to poorer patient outcomes.”

He said he’s sure Ms Verrall knows the enormity of the task ahead and how important it will be for Government to work together with unions and health organisations to bring about meaningful change.

Paul Goulter also acknowledged departing Health Minister Andrew Little.

“I would like to thank Mr Little for the work he did in the health arena and I wish him well with his new portfolios.”


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.