NZNO's Blog

A shot across the bow

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Anne, Daniels, President
Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa NZNO

Metaphorically our NZNO national Day of Action was “a shot across the bow”. It was an action to warn our Government and nurse employers that if we (NZNO members) continue to be ignored, they can expect stronger, more direct action.

Why? As many who spoke at any one of the 20 rallies around the country, said, we can no longer wait. Our patients cannot wait and suffer, and we can no longer stand by and let that suffering continue. Their pain is our pain.

15 April 2023 was a historic day for NZNO. It was the first time, since the formation of our union, that members from every sector, stood together in solidarity, to demand one action – safe staffing.

In Wellington, we were led out by members of Te Poari and Te Runanga, walking proudly towards Parliament (and our various destinations throughout the country). I believe there would have been many silent tears shed.

For me, when members of the public stopped in their tracks and started clapping, filming, joining in, I knew we had the public with us in solidly with us. As a female-dominated profession, we have come a long way from the time of the Suffragettes, but we still have a long way to go.  Change does not come from those who hold the reins of power, it comes from you, our members and those who support us.

Every NZNO member everywhere must act. This is our future, our time. We will only succeed if we all challenge ourselves to be part of the change that we need to see. The rallies were successful as we gained strong and prioritised media attention.

However, less that 4 percent of our members attended these rallies. Why were the other 96 percent not there? Some were working. A few were in places where no rally was being held, but the vast majority of our members were not there. As a nurse, mother, grandmother (with grandchildren living with me), an ED nurse, and as an NZNO activist since the 1990s, I have always acted when change is needed. I have not left it to someone else and I have never acted alone. We need everyone. This is a challenge to all our members to “Maranga Mai!”, Rise Up and Act!

On Saturday, I laid down another a challenge to all political parties and individual Ministers to publicly commit the fixes of Maranga Mai! The media, in turn, asked each political party if they would do just that. All parties who responded said that their health policy leading into the election had not been finalised. What an opportunity for us!

Get together, go see your local politician and tell them why our fixes need to happen NOW. Then, challenge them to commit publicly. Let them know, that we won’t stop, until we get what we need and the nation needs – a public health system that is fit for purpose, safe to work in, and that retains and recruits the right number of skilled nurse/midwife/HCA/kaiāwhina/allied health workers that we need to provide the best of care. You can do this. We can do this. We must do this, NOW.

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