Policy analyses and reports

NZNO Rūnanga and PHARMAC to recognise Māori nurses in fourth Tapuhi Kaitiaki awards

Te Rūnanga o Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa and PHARMAC – Te Pātaka Whaioranga are proud to open submissions for the fourth annual PHARMAC Tapuhi Kaitiaki Awards. The Awards, which were first held in 2018, acknowledge the key role Māori nurses play in influencing health outcomes for whānau.

“Some truly exceptional nurses and tauira have been recognised over the past four years through these awards, and I know this year will be no different,” says PHARMAC’s Chief Advisor Māori Trevor Simpson (Tuhoe, Ngāti Awa).

The Tapuhi Kaitiaki Awards are offered in two categories, each with a prize pool of $10,000. The first category for Nurse Practitioner/Nurse Prescriber recognises Māori nurses who are on a professional development journey to advance their clinical practice and expertise. The second category, Māori Nurse Mātauranga, supports nurses and tauira to further their study and/or develop an innovative way to help whānau, hapū and iwi to access and understand their medicines.

“They offer a financial contribution for Māori nurses to further their studies and clinical practise and can be used by nurses to help continue their incredible achievements and whānau commitment,” says Trevor.

Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says that Te Rūnanga are extremely proud of the support and investment PHARMAC is providing with the Tapuhi Kaitiaki scholarships. 

“We need a health system that supports services run by Māori for Māori in order to improve the health of our whānau, hapū and iwi. These awards are a crucial way to tautoko that aspiration, especially for our nurses who are studying to be nurse prescribers and nurse practitioners so they can serve their people where their medical access is limited.

“Māori nurses are not only dedicated professionals but great innovators. The Kaitiaki Awards provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase their day-to-day mahi for the betterment of their people, hei oranga motuhake mo ngā whānau, me ngā hapū, me ngā iwi katoa."

The awards are a great example of how PHARMAC is working across the health system to strengthen relationships with Māori health professional groups and uphold the articles of Te Tiriti across all its work.

“We are honoured to be part of this initiative to celebrate and support the incredible contributions and aspirations of Māori in the health sector.” 

Submissions close 1 July 2021. To make a submission visit the NZNO website and go to Awards. 

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If you would like to talk with Trevor Simpson, please contact PHARMAC’s senior communications advisor Jane Wright via media@pharmac.govt.nz or 021863342. If you would like to talk with Kerri Nuku please contact hugo.robinson@nzno.org.nz


Nurses extremely disappointed at pay freeze announcement

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 5 May 2021

NZNO says health care workers across Aotearoa New Zealand are extremely disappointed following the government’s pay freeze announcement.

Despite being on the frontline for COVID-19, Nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and kaimahi hauora employed by District Health Boards (DHB) could all be affected by the announcement.

NZNO Industrial Services Manager Glenda Alexander says she is seriously concerned about the impact of the policy on NZNO's work to resolve gender pay issues within nursing and midwifery.

"This announcement could set back our efforts to resolve the longstanding undervaluation of our members’ work, especially regarding pay rates for nurses.

"Three years effectively freezing our payrates would put us backward in closing the gender pay gap between the female-dominated nursing occupation and male-dominated occupations, many of which are in the private sector."

On top of pay equity concerns, NZNO Industrial Advisor David Wait says that the announcement could have significant impacts on the current negotiations as well as staff retention.

"NZNO is in negotiations with DHBs for a new Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) which affects over 30,000 workers. Our members in DHBs are feeling let down and anxious following the announcement. They’re feeling that this is a huge disrespect given all they have done for the country during the pandemic.

"We keep hearing from members that this is just the thing to push them to move overseas," he said.

"All people in Aotearoa New Zealand should be concerned at the possible impact of the guidance on our ability to attract and retain health workers in our public hospitals and DHB facilities that are already understaffed".

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Media inquiries: Hugo Robinson, Assistant Media and Communications Advisor, 021 194 3408. 


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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Media Inquiries: Hugo Robinson, NZNO Assistant Media and Communications Advisor, 021 194 3408 


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."

Media Inquiries: Hugo Robinson, NZNO Assistant Media and Communications Advisor, 021 194 3408 


Nurses and health workers agree to keep moving

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 19 October 2020

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) congratulates the Labour Party on its historic election win and promises to work with the new Government so that progress in health can “keep moving” in Aotearoa New Zealand.

NZNO President Heather Symes said both NZNO and the Government have a lot on their agendas in the coming year.

“We both want the same thing – a first rate health system where people are cared for as best as possible, and in which every health worker is safe and fairly paid.

“The Government has a clear mandate to progress with its agenda and NZNO is keen to work together in good faith on issues such as how improvements in health funding will keep moving forward and how the Government will address the findings of this year’s Health and Disability Commissioner’s report.”

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said NZNO has worked steadfastly with the Government on these issues and pledges to continue doing so.

“We also share a commitment to pay parity for nurses and all health workers across the sector, and an end to persistent discrepancies in pay levels between those who work in district health boards and those who work in Primary Care.

“People working for Māori and Iwi health providers often work for 30 percent less than those working in public hospitals, despite having the same qualifications, experience and commitment to their employers and patients. This sort of historic injustice has to end right now.”

Ms Nuku and Ms Symes said that on NZNO’s agenda at present are several high level multi-employer collective agreements (MECAs) and, together with other unions, a pay equity initiative through which nurses will be paid the same as those working in similar but male-dominated professions.

“COVID-19 has ushered us all into a brave new world and that means we have to be brave and face our issues squarely so we do what’s right and just without delay. That’s what keeping moving means,” they say.

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


De-valuing of nursing deeply worrying

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 27 August 2020

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s (NZNO’s) College of Emergency Nurses (CENNZ) says the de-valuing of the nursing role evident in recent moves by the Canterbury DHB (CDHB) are deeply worrying, and that all New Zealanders should be concerned.

College Chair Dr Sandy Richardson says the loss of key personnel from the DHB such as Director of Nursing Mary Gordon, and the DHB Board’s decision to prioritise deficit management will have significant health effects.

“We’re looking at an anticipated $13 million cut in nursing staff costs. The willingness to target nursing whenever money needs saving is long-standing and shows a lack of awareness that patient safety is reduced when the number of nurses and skill mix is lower than required to meet patient need.

“It’s a failure to comprehend what nurses actually do and how vital their role is.”  

Dr Richardson said CDHB is unique in that Canterbury, the West Coast, Kaikoura and Marlborough have experienced ongoing and cumulative crises and disasters over the past decades, which have had a significant impact on the health system, the health workforce and community. 

“The ongoing effects of these remain in terms of physical, emotional and psychological reminders for people in these areas, and the health system has suffered financial, structural and institutional wounds – and now we have COVID-19. 

“Throughout this, nurses have continued to work effectively and efficiently, and to maximise savings.  There is no fat left to cut.  A nursing shortage already looms due to its ageing workforce, but the Board plans to reduce the number of new graduates being employed.”

Dr Richardson said the loss of important clinical voices and institutional knowledge resulting from the mass resignations is reminiscent of the 1998 Stent report which made 112 recommendations related to Canterbury Health. The investigation came after multiple warnings from clinical staff and professional organisations.

“Then Health and Disability Commissioner Robyn Stent recognised the damage done by cost cutting and loss of clinical expertise. Her report validated the warning letter sent by concerned staff ‘Patients are dying’. 

“This was centred on Christchurch Hospital and should be a reminder of the worst that can occur; but this seems to have slipped from the Board’s collective memory.”

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


NZNO welcomes health system review report

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 16 June 2020

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says it agrees with the direction proposed in the health system review report released today, and says the changes it suggests have been much anticipated.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says NZNO members have long advocated for the population health approach which the report rightly emphasises.

“We especially welcome the proposed structural changes, particularly the Māori Health Authority. These changes echo the recommendations of the Wai 2575 Health Services and Outcomes Inquiry and will better reflect Te Tiriti. They will also ensure obligations under Te Tiriti are reflected across the whole health system.”

NZNO Chief Executive Memo Musa said nurses are the largest regulated body of health workers in Aotearoa New Zealand, so it was good to see the centrality of the health workforce reflected. However, he said attention must be given to making sure the proposed changes serve the population and workforce well.

“The emphasis on strategic employment relations at tripartite level (government, employer and union) will be fundamental to sustained and sustainable health system change.

“We also agree with the proposed new governance arrangements because they could provide the strong leadership the system needs. They will also be an opportunity for nurses to step up and become more involved in high level policy and funding.”

But Mr Musa said the devil is always in the detail.

“We look forward to the changes and will be watching very closely. We very much encourage nurses to be involved in implementation and change, because this is where we have the most value to add.”

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


Primary health care nurses reject pay offer

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 21 May 2020

After prolonged negotiations primary health care nurses have voted down a final offer from employers of 2.5 and 2 percent pay increases over two years.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has been negotiating the Primary Health Care Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (PHC MECA) since November last year. The MECA covers more than 3400 nurses, receptionists and administrators across more than 500 practices and accident or medical centres.

Despite approaches to the Health Minister, the Ministry of Health and DHB officials by NZNO and organisations such as the New Zealand Medical Association, Green Cross Limited and General Practice NZ, the additional funding needed to achieve pay parity with DHB nurses has not been forthcoming.

NZNO Industrial Adviser Chris Wilson says that in March this year employers gave their final offer based on what they say they can currently afford, but it was clearly insufficient.

“We have advocated strongly for an offer that would put primary health care nurses on a salary par with their DHB counterparts, but this offer falls woefully short and accordingly our members have voted it down.

“An experienced nurse covered by the PHC MECA is currently paid 10.6 percent less than their DHB colleague with the same qualifications and experience. This disparity can and must be fixed, and it really comes down to funding and political will.”

Ms Wilson says that despite NZNO’s advocacy, and widespread recognition of their valuable work – especially on the frontline against COVID-19 – the Government continues to undervalue the work of PHC nurses and the sector by not funding the gap that will secure pay parity. She says it’s time this recognition and praise were matched by pay.

“There was a post-Budget pledge of more funding to early childhood centres in recognition that they were undervalued and of their importance in the recovery from COVID-19. That’s a great outcome for them and it shows the Government is capable of addressing pay inequities. There are clear parallels here to primary health care and we would like to see a similar solution found.

Earlier this year NZNO surveyed its members covered by the PHC MECA and 70 percent of respondents said they were considering leaving the sector because of higher pay elsewhere. Many nurse leaders said in the survey that they are struggling to recruit new nurses or keep the ones they already have.

“These nurses provide expert care and advice which often reduces hospital admissions. Fewer nurses will mean these services become less available and more expensive,” Ms Wilson says.

“Not only is the pay inequality an injustice, it ultimately costs the system more in the long-term. We cannot let this go on.”

NZNO will resume negotiations as soon as possible in an endeavour to reach a proposed collective agreement that values primary health care workers’ contribution to delivering a quality service at the frontline of health.

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


Budget not specific on opportunities

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 18 May 2020

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says it is pleased to see significant investment into health and disabilities in the 2020 Budget, but wants more detail about how that money will be targeted, lest important opportunities be missed.

NZNO Industrial Services Manager Glenda Alexander says it is really positive that the Budget acknowledges the crucial changes our health and social systems require.

“We welcome funding that targets the social determinants of health, including massive increases to state housing and insulation; lunches for 200,000 schoolchildren; and trades training, because good housing, nutrition and employment are central to good health.

“We also welcome $3.9 billion for district health boards announced earlier last week, but what we’d really like to see is some detail about how that extra money will flow into the Primary Health Care sector and towards Māori and Iwi providers. This is where the bottlenecks are.”

Ms Alexander said another issue not specifically addressed was staffing.

“How does the Government believe this extra health care it is funding will be delivered when the current health workforce is so understaffed? Additionally the urgent need for a skilled workforce in aged care has been starkly profiled by the COVID-19 crisis.

“So there’s a real opportunity here to look at re-training and support to meet this growing need, especially when we consider unemployment is likely to be around 10 percent or more.

“And if we’re speaking of opportunities, there is Budget funding ring-fenced for Māori and Pasifika communities ($485 million and $195 million respectively) that could and should be used to address equity issues.

“Finally, it is really disappointing to see that there is no progress to pay equity and living wage campaigns, both of which are central to work nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kai mahi hauora do.”

She said that, while it’s great that we now understand that money has to be spent, we do need to be reassured that money and resources are being targeted correctly to ensure the real problems we face are addressed at their real heart.

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


Nurses must be supported as frontline against COVID-19

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 20 March 2020

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is calling for measures to improve support for nurses in the Government’s next round of pandemic initiatives after still more infections were reported today.

NZNO President Grant Brookes says the Government is doing a remarkable job but that, while more funding has already been promised for the health system, some resources could now be specifically for nurses who bear the brunt of working on the frontline across all sectors.

“Things we could do include paid special leave to look after an isolated dependant or a child unable to go to school; or free child care so nurses can carry on working.

“The competing demands on nurses are incredible and unprecedented right now. We are already hearing of their fatigue and anxiety about getting sick themselves, or that they will take infection home to their families and communities.

“But nurses also know they are expected to be there, because they always have been in the frontline for any medical emergency. They’re actually the glue that holds our COVID-19 response together, and will be working long hours under extremely stressful conditions.

“The potential for overwork and burnout is enormous, especially in cases where nurses are the sole breadwinners.”

It’s still to be confirmed that all of the total 39 cases reported to date have all come from overseas, but Mr Brookes said community spread was probably inevitable.

“If and when that occurs, health employers are expecting 25-30 percent of staff to be on sick leave from becoming symptomatic or from the need to care for dependants who are ill or off school. Anything we can do to acknowledge and relieve the pressure nurses are under would be welcome.

“We will get through this, because we know we can rely on our nurses. Let’s give them what they need to do their jobs and keep themselves safe and well.” 

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


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