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No more politicians scoring points over people’s lives

Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere
Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa NZNO

Health is the ultimate political football in Aotearoa. Every party in power tries to use it to their advantage, to impose their short-term ideals onto health and – even worse – to only focus on the surface issues so they look like they’ve done something. We can’t let politicians keep doing this at the expense of people’s health and lives.

Opposition parties are willing to tear each other down over failures, even though they’ve all helped gut the system we have today. Yet when in power, rather than be accountable and effective, they tinker around the edges, failing to address the systemic issues.

Politicians go on three yearly cycles, during which time they’re mostly better at destroying than creating. But unlike them, our voice and our work is constant. We must urge for a common public health approach based on the idea that all people deserve the best health care, and all workers deserve the best conditions. If we don’t take control of the political narrative, governments will continue trying to distract people from the real health issues.

To do this we must fight the anti-Māori and anti-union rhetoric on the right. We need to stake our claim as experts of our own field and fiercely protect our profession. The current workforce crisis is going to require some immediate fixes and a long-term strategy which will require nursing to be part of the planning.

COVID has brutally exposed the nursing shortage. While the obvious course should have been to build the nursing workforce, this has not been the case. Instead, changes to the Health Act further undermined and eroded nursing by extending the scope of an unregulated workforce to bridge the shortfall.

We have a 4000+ nursing workforce shortage and the international Council of Nurses reports a 4.6 million nursing shortfall worldwide, so I repeat: if nursing is going to be the political football we need to control the narrative!

Political parties need to consider how we are going to make nursing attractive again, how are we going to make nursing a career choice for school leavers, support them through their training and graduate them into good jobs. How are we going to support and retain the nurses currently in the workforce by valuing their work, protecting their health and safety, including deconstructing the pay disparities that continue?

I have been inundated with calls of immense distress from nurses, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora upset and powerless to speak out against what they are witness to: care choices and negative outcomes driven as a direct result of nursing shortage.

If only our nursing crisis was as simple as a hospital drama tv show  – but  when a nursing shift finishes the emotional debrief plays out in your head hours after leaving the workplace, or wakes you from your sleep as you try to remember whether or not you signed that form, or what you need to do today, or whether there will be enough staff on the next shift.

Nursing is not a drama – nursing is real and it’s up to us to ensure that Government responds to the needs of the people, not us having to bend to their whims.


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Maranga Mai! – Health and Safety

Anne Daniels, President
NZNO, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa

Is every nurse, everywhere sufficiently resourced to safely do their job?

What can we make of the Minister of Health saying the hospitals are coping when a raft of professionals within the health sector are saying exactly the opposite? Let’s unpack the statement: Hospitals are coping……

Health care is delivered by nurses everywhere in New Zealand, not just in hospitals. Are Primary Care, Aged Care, Māori and Pasifika nurses coping? I don’t think so. In many cases they are even less resourced. They are at the front-line providing prevention, health education, and wrap around services that include whānau and iwi, but this appears invisible in the Minister’s statement. If it was not for them, the pressures on hospitals would be so much greater.

But the situation is so dire that doctors themselves have written to the Minister demanding that change happen for nurses so they (the doctors) can do their work.

And Aged Care is definitely not coping. Facilities are closing due to nursing shortages, making for unsafe work environments. At a recent Select Committee hearing, NZNO College of Gerontology Nursing Chair Natalie Seymour clearly outlined the major challenges Aged Care nurses and facility managers are facing. The toll being taken on those who provide the care, nurses and health care assistants, in the current nursing shortage context, is beyond belief. Yet our members keep going to work, keep caring, and keep voicing their concerns about unsafe work environments ever more loudly.

Maranga Mai! – The Health and Safety umbrella.

Health and Safety is a main area of focus within our Maranga Mai! campaign. Under this umbrella we are organising opportunities to build member power to hold our employers and their masters to account.

NZNO now has a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) WhatsApp group run by NZNO educator John Howell. This is bringing HSRs together to build understanding and support to engage all members to actively participate in resolving nursing shortage issues. We are building infrastructure, capacity and action by and with our NZNO HSRs, delegates and members.

Those NZNO HSRs and delegates – in combination with members – are a power to be reckoned with, particularly when the HSRs utilise the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015. The HWSA’s main principle is that workers are given the highest level of protection from workplace health and safety risks as possible.

All NZNO members are expected to participate and, as a result, increasing numbers of Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs) are being submitted by NZNO HSRs in regions such as Palmerston North, Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Southern, Wellington, and I believe more will come.

A PIN is written notice legally requiring an employer or service provider to address a health and safety issue before a certain time.

Nurses are rising up to make sure that every nurse, no matter where they work in the health sector, has the power and resources to safely do their job. Maranga Mai!

This is just the beginning.


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NZNO elections and the values of our leadership

Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere
Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa, NZNO

Finally, our organisation is becoming more progressive, politically active, and responsive to our member voice. This can be seen in Maranga Mai!, our overarching health and safety campaign that recognises workers across all sectors—aged care, primary and private health, community and Māori health—are all now being prioritised alongside DHB. Maranga Mai! advances Tino Rangatiratanga and Mana Motuhake as real drivers for change; achieving the best outcome for all without Māori losing mana.

With NZNO’s elections coming up (nominations have just opened) I wanted to reflect on what’s moving us in this direction and what I believe will strengthen us moving forward. For me, it comes down to values. What I see making the difference is that the leadership are taking a more values-based approach. That means we’re working in unity, making decisions based on what we’re trying to achieve together. It also means coming back to our shared values to navigate differences.

Members expect a lot of NZNO’s Board, just as we expect a lot of all leaders. We’re rightly held to account to do the best for our members, and to be guided by our shared values when making decisions. We’re all well familiar with seeing politicians and leaders start off saying one thing and then doing the opposite. And instead of owning up to their failings, or addressing them, they put the blame elsewhere. At their worst, they champion false news and repetitively articulate off the wall messages that aren’t grounded in fact, until the uninformed become believers. We have all been a witness to this over recent years from politicians and the like.

To keep building on the momentum we have right now, we need to ensure our leaders have integrity and commitment to their values and to our organisation. We need to be able to trust that those elected will stick together to do the best for all our members. Our organisation will continue to flourish if we continue to make decisions based on values.

The flipside is that we can’t buy into division amongst ourselves. Our members deserve better than that and I believe we know such rhetoric won’t serve us. My hope for these elections is that we instead shift our focus to what we’re building together, our shared vision of justice. I hope those who put their hats in the ring will model the values that have helped NZNO turn the corner in the last year.  I look forward to the outcomes of these elections and continuing to build our collective voice and action. We have so much more to do, and we can only do it together.


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Maranga Mai! – Rise up and act together

Anne Daniels, President
NZNO Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa

On 12May 2022 NZNO launched the Maranga Mai! campaign. Central to Maranga Mai! are the “Five Fixes” which form the charter of demands for the campaign:

  1. Te Tiriti o Waitangi actualised within NZNO and across the health system
  2. More nurses across the health sector
  3. Pay and conditions that meet nurses’ value and expectations
  4. More people training to be nurses (in New Zealand)
  5. More Māori and Pasifika nurses

These fixes have a number of areas of focus.

In her recent blog,, NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said our work and lives are political. She encouraged members to “get political”, and indeed, it is our professional responsibility to do so.

The third fix, more specifically the conditions needed to meet nurses’ values and work conditions, demands political critical thinking, collective power and action to meet our responsibilities to ourselves, our future selves and those we care for.

So what is the” WHY” in our Maranga Mai! campaign?

Our why is to win the necessary political and resourcing commitments needed to address the nursing, midwifery, HCA, support worker and kaimahi hauora shortage crisis permanently, across the whole health sector.

“WHAT” are we aiming to achieve?

1. Mandated minimum nurse-to-patient ratios supported by a fit for purpose tool that can increase appropriate skilled and experienced nurse resourcing when and where it is needed.

Mandated means legislation, which means political and collective power and action is needed. This is an outcome of the remit passed by the membership at the 2020 AGM.

Going forward, nurses must have appropriate levels of experienced and skilled resource available, built on data driven information to ensure patients and nurses are not put at risk. Nurses must not have to struggle to do the best they can, fearful of what may meet them when they go to work. This must be worked through across all sectors of the health system, not just the DHBs – and the Māori and iwi sector is the most urgently in need of attention.

2. All nurses, regardless of their sector must receive pay equity/parity and work conditions that: reflect the true value of nurses everywhere; attract people to the profession; and support nurses’ work choices.

While the Minister of Health has already signalled this will happen, the questions are when and which sector first? Māori and Pasifika nurses in primary care have, for a long time, been marginalised, more so than many other nurses in different sectors.

Making our commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi a reality is a real opportunity for us all. Raising up our Māori and Pasifika colleagues will drive parity of pay and conditions for all.

“HOW” are we going to do this?

Our national Maranga Mai! campaign strategy is being developed by our great team and it will be up to us, the nurses at the coal face, to make it real for ourselves locally. Our expectation that the recent Budget would deliver on some of our goals has not been realised. Therefore, we have to to take the lead.

The Care & Support Worker rallies we held across the country (together with the PSA and E tū) on 23 May were our first ‘on the ground’ and publicly visible Maranga Mai! action, and I was proud to lead and speak at the one held in Dunedin. We will do many more of these sorts of activities.

The power to create change is in our hands. Every nurse everywhere must Maranga Mai! – Rise up and act together.


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Time to get politically proactive

Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere
NZNO Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa

Nurses have long been marginalised in the politics of health and unfortunately, NZNO hasn’t been a strong enough advocate to challenge that. For years the organisation has made compromises and concessions because it didn’t have the political will or the belief in our collective strength to challenge power.

But we need to get past the idea that we’re non-partisan. Our work is political, our lives are political, and the powerful will exploit our apathy to their advantage. As health workers we’re advocates for our patients and as a union and professional organisation, we advocate for a better health system. To do that we must engage in politics. And by that I don’t mean endorsing a political party. I mean building and pushing our own vision of health and holding all decision-makers to account to get there.      

After all, unions have always fought on broader political causes because workers’ lives don’t just begin and end when they clock in. Unions have been part of the fight for Indigenous liberation, women’s rights, racial justice, climate justice and the peace movement across the world. As the union saying goes, “an injury to one is an injury to all.” We are part of a long history of collective struggle for all people.

I also want to point out that it’s not only our unionist roots that demand political courage, but our professional responsibilities too. When standards of practice are watered down or public health measures are eased against our better judgement, those are the result of political decisions that we must challenge. 

So now, with the general election on the horizon, we start seeing National and the Act Party rolling out racist rhetoric, including calls to extinguish the Māori Health Authority. They’re also advocating the same economic policies that gutted our health system. At the same time Labour will continue to make promises they won’t deliver on. We need to watch all this and be ready to push back on it.  

From this point on, NZNO must change the way it operates if we want to go from conservative to progressive, from reactionary to proactive. If we want what’s best for ourselves and our communities, we need to go hard and front foot on political issues.

We must start to empower people to do their own thinking and not be afraid to front divisive issues on race, gender, sexuality, class, and power. We can’t sit and wait for change to happen for us. We’ve got to be courageous and realise we have the power to make change. Not only do we have the power, we have the right and the responsibility to stand up, be heard and fight for a better future.


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Kotahitanga and the opportunities presented by Pay Equity

Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere
New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO)

This is a truly significant time. Despite the difficulties we’re currently facing, the rates offered to DHB nursing staff under the recent proposed Nursing Pay Equity settlement should be something to celebrate because it’s a formal recognition that we have been undervalued. Of course, it doesn’t come close to really addressing the power imbalance we face in a sexist society, but material compensation would be better than just words.

It’s taken an incredibly long time even to get to this point, and I think we owe it to ourselves and each other to be staunch and see this process through. It’s crucial for us to challenge with curiosity and hold fast to what we know our value to be. We can’t settle for anything that will undermine the future of nursing.

The fact that members are not satisfied with what’s been put in front of them is a positive thing because it has opened a conversation and presented us with possibilities. We’ve come across an obstacle, and now we’re given an opportunity to reflect, regather and renew our direction.

For me, the critical part of this, and the opportunity that we’re now afforded, is to put a line in the sand and say that all workers across all sectors need to be recognised. What we do today is important for our colleagues across the sectors.

We can truly enact kotahitanga and solidarity. We can be forward thinking, and above all, we can embrace a broader sense of justice than what the Government and employers want us to have. They want us to fight amongst each other for funding, to think it’s either DHB or Māori providers or Aged Caregivers. They also benefit if we think that Te Tiriti and equity are at odds with union principles. That kind of thinking creates division. It’s not the kind of thinking that wins the fight for justice.

We can and must fight for all, and in doing so we have to acknowledge that non-DHB campaigns haven’t had the same support at NZNO.

Just as nurses are trained to triage patients based on their acuity, everybody should get the care they need and deserve. Why shouldn’t we apply the same to our own organisation? Why can’t we also focus our resources on those who most deeply experience inequity?

Again, we don’t have to choose between, but our NZNO’s relative silence for those outside DHBs has to be addressed and together with the strength of 55,000 we can expand Pay Equity to all sectors. 

Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati – When we stand alone we are vulnerable, but together we are unbreakable.


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Nursing shortages – beyond crisis. Is there an upside?

Anne Daniels, President
New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO)

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku and I have repeatedly stated that DHBs and communities in Aotearoa New Zealand are beyond crisis when it comes to having enough appropriately trained and experienced nurses to do the job well. A crisis can be defined as a “time of intense difficulty or danger”. It’s also when important decisions must be made, and we are at that time.

Why (do we have to make a decision)?

Older nurses are retiring in droves; others are changing careers; too few are entering nursing study; and internationally qualified nurses (IQNs) are facing immigration barriers. This all makes the work pile higher on those left in the profession.

Nurses are working overtime and are repeatedly asked to give up valuable days off. As research affirms, exhausted nurses make mistakes and patients suffer as a result. So, despite this pressure, we’re hearing more and more that nurses are starting to say no. They’re saying, “I don’t know how much more we I can take. If things keep going the way they are, we’re going to lose patients and, as a nurse, that’s just too much to bear.”

National and international research shows nurses are feeling increasingly embattled. It’s not just the workloads or pay; it’s facing the “challenge of knowing what care patients need but being unable to provide it due to constraints beyond the nurses control.”[1]

On top of this are inequities across the health sector experienced by Māori and others in Aotearoa New Zealand. Nurses are leaving or reducing their hours of work, not responding to texts asking them to work on their time off, and in some countries, despite covid, they are striking.

What (are we going to decide) and when?

Our calls for action have been ignored for decades and we can’t wait for Government or employers any longer. Even though it will take years to overcome the complex issues we face, we must start now. It will take collaboration from the community, academia, all levels of health care and Government to work in real partnership with NZNO (as the largest representative of health workers) to develop creative solutions.

NZNO’s leadership and Board of Directors are working on an overarching campaign to ensure all nurses everywhere, work together to win the political and resourcing commitments needed to address the nursing shortage crisis permanently.

Last word…

There is an upside. We always need to know what we’re trying to achieve when we decide to stand up and fight the good fight. Power is generated from the bottom up. At 55,000 strong, we have the power in our hands to shape the future of nursing. We are all in this together and we will win.


[1]     Dean, W., Talbot, S., & Dean, A. (2019). Reframing clinician distress: Moral injury not burnout. Federal Practitioner, 36(9): 400–402. Reframing Clinician Distress: Moral Injury Not Burnout – PMC (nih.gov)


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Nurses’ and teachers’ settlements: a brief comparison

1810-lesleyLesley Harry, DHB Industrial Adviser, NZNO

As this is being written, voting has just started for primary school teachers who are members of NZEI on their proposed settlement of June 2019. Inevitably, comparisons are being made by some between the outcomes achieved by teachers this year and by nurses last year with the NZNO-DHB MECA settlement.

This brief article will make some general comments on how the offers to teachers and to nurses compare and is not an in-depth analysis.

General comments

It is important to note that this comparison only applies to the proposed settlement for primary school teachers (NZEI). At the time of writing the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) is yet to vote on the proposed settlement.

We do not find it helpful to take a “which profession deserves more” approach. Teaching and nursing are both professions that are: essential to the well-being of Aotearoa New Zealand, female-dominated and significantly undervalued historically.

Similar processes and results

The process and results for nurses and teachers have in fact been quite similar. In each case there was an extended bargaining process with multiple offers rejected until a significantly better employer offer resulted after strike action.

In each case a series of pay increases was won, an accord was achieved promising further changes to the resourcing of the profession, new steps were introduced and a pro rata lump sum payment was offered (nurses $2000; teachers $1500).

NZNO was very supportive of the teachers in their bargaining and industrial action. Our support, including turning up at their demonstrations, was well-received and appreciated.

Similar wages

The teachers’ proposed pay increases are comparable to the 2018 NZNO/DHB MECA pay rises. Direct comparisons between the professions can be quite difficult and need a lot of explanation or clarification but we can provide some basics.

With the teachers’ proposed settlement, Q3 teachers (teachers with a three-year degree) on $71,891 will move to $75,200 in 1 July 2019. Under the NZNO DHB MECA agreement the salary for registered nurses and midwives on step 6 will increase to a very similar $75,132 on 5 August 2019. The new Step 7 of $77,386 for registered nurses and midwives comes into effect on 4 May 2020.

Q3 Teachers at year 9 (nine years’ experience) will transition to $83,000 on 1 July 2020, but note that this is just before the DHB/NZNO MECA expiry and subsequent re-negotiation, which are likely to result in salary increases.

So it is not until 1 July 2020 that a Q3 teacher at the top of the scale will be paid more than a registered nurse. If we look at the lower end of the scale, the comparison is much better for nurses. For example, a new grad teacher starts on $48,401 (on 1 July 2019). An RN is on $52,460 as of 1 May 2019. A Q3 teacher with five years’ service will be on $62,000 (from 1 July 2019). An RN with five years’ service has been on $70,820 since 6 May 2019.

The length of the term is important to the comparison

It is important to note that the NZEI collective agreement (CA) expired in May 2018. The term of the new proposed CA is 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2022. However, the actual period from the expiry of the previous CA and expiry of the proposed CA is more than four years.

The average pay increases for teachers stated as overall being 18.5%  is comparable to the DHB/NZNO MECA increases of around 15% when the term and expiry of the teachers’ settlement is taken into account.

The NZNO/DHB MECA expires on 31 July 2020 – two years prior to the expiry of the teachers’ proposed CA. This means NZNO is well positioned to close or improve on any remaining gaps with teachers’ wages at the 2020 NZNO-DHB negotiations.

Let’s not forget pay equity

A significant difference between the settlements is pay equity, which was raised as a claim by NZNO as part of the MECA negotiations. The pay equity process is underway and making progress, with the agreed outcome recognised as effective from 31 December 2019.

We cannot yet say for sure what the results of this process will be, but it is likely to mean even further significant wage increases for nurses.


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Katrina Hopkinson: Pay Equity – Why should nurses have to struggle?

NZNO made an oral submission to the Education and Workforce Committee on 6 March 2019 on the Equal Pay Amendment Bill 2018. Katrina was part of our delegation. This is her speech.

Kia Ora Koutou,

My name is Katrina Hopkinson. I’m a registered nurse at the post anaesthetic care unit, commonly called ‘Recovery’, a critical care unit, in a tertiary level hospital here in the capital city.

I have 12 years nursing experience, a Bachelor of Nursing degree, a post graduate Diploma in Nursing and a post graduate Certificate in Occupational Health. I am an NZNO delegate and health and safety representative.

Nurses are highly qualified with advanced interpersonal, assessment and technical knowledge and skill. Our work carried great professional responsibility and personal risk. The risk of error has potentially serious adverse consequences for public safety. Our work is classed as highly stressful and at time repugnant.

Nursing is mentally, physically, emotionally and frequently ethically demanding. We are really good at it but we know we are being unfairly remunerated to reflect the true scope of practice, professional skill and responsibility demanded of us daily. To cite nursing as ‘woman’s work’ or ‘caring’ fails to recognise the true nature of nursing in 2019.

I am hoping the DHB MECA Pay Equity process is going to close the gender-based pay gap once and for all on 31 December 2019 because, currently, nurses struggle to participate fully in society. We do extra shifts to make ends meet, keeping us away from our family and friends. Our remuneration is clearly less than that of comparable occupations but we pay the same price for groceries, petrol, child care and interest rates. It is grossly unfair.

In our unit of 42 staff just a quarter own their own home. A third can afford dental check-ups and, in the event of a natural disaster, about a quarter could walk home from work. We can’t afford to live in the communities we work in, and the local bank has told us to leave the profession if we ever want to own a home in Wellington. The bank algorithms say we don’t earn enough. There is an incongruence between our financial and professional status.

No one ever thought they’d get rich nursing, but we thought we’d be able to secure warm dry housing and dental care. Nurses are voting with their feet, leaving for Australia where our skills are sought after. We can’t afford to keep losing experienced nurses with the looming workforce shortage. Pay Equity could make a real difference to retention.

I’m here today to stand up for all NZNO members, nurses across New Zealand and all the workers in female-dominated professions to tell you we demand equal pay for work of equal value now. Pay Equity is good for New Zealand families, communities and the economy.

See also: Nurses’ impassioned plea in favour of pay equity: ‘We can’t afford to live in the communities we work in’, Dominion Post, 6 March 2019 (includes video).


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Moving forward together

By Hilary Graham-Smith, NZNO Associate Professional Services Manager

This article was first published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, October 2018

The past 12 months have taken a toll on all of us, in various ways. A malaise has hung over NZNO and its members; it has been a bit like the winter bug that keeps recurring, only the symptoms are not snuffles, coughing or headaches. At first, the symptoms were mild – anxiety tinged with optimism and hope tinged with despair. But as time went on, they worsened and manifested, for some, as anger, bitterness, cynicism and hostility. For others, there was sadness, disbelief and disquiet.

The maelstrom that has been the district health board (DHB) multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations, which began in 2017, has left many of us feeling bruised, and wondering what has become of our great profession. As I reflect on this question, other even more difficult ones creep into my head – how do we move forward from this? How do we rebuild trust between and among members, and between members and NZNO?

Staff had had enough

There is no doubt nurses and health care assistants working in our hospitals had had enough – enough of working short-staffed, shift after shift after shift; enough of working extra and/or double shifts; enough of not having their qualifications, expertise and commitment recognised in their pay packets; and enough of putting themselves and their patients at risk, because of all of these things.

There is no doubt trust and confidence in care capacity demand management (CCDM) to deliver a solution had evaporated and, to be fair, is it any wonder? After 10 years, progress on implementation was still glacial. Work analyses and full-time equivalent (FTE) calculations, while providing evidence of the need for more staff, went unheeded. Yes, we know why, but is that really an excuse?

As the negotiations continued, the tension increased, both inside and outside NZNO. The advocates and the negotiating team continued working hard to achieve a result that would go some way to satisfying members, but to no avail, so members voted to strike. Right there was the signal that nurses, midwives and health-care assistants were not going to be easily appeased.

As the first strike day (5 July) loomed, we threw ourselves into planning for the delivery of life preserving services (LPS). For most of us, this was a first, the learning curve was steep. The pace was demanding – days, nights, weekends of work. Anxiety about getting it right was high, but then came a brief reprieve. NZNO was harangued about calling off the first strike day, but that wasn’t done lightly or on a whim. Bargaining had resumed and, under the law, a strike cannot take place while the parties are in bargaining.

To those who still hold a grudge against NZNO about that, perhaps acquainting themselves with the rules that govern bargaining before unleashing their anger would have been more professional. Remember how much we love to say we are an evidence-based profession?

Of course, the stone-throwing started long before the strike. Some members (and non-members) took to social media to rain down abuse on NZNO and on individual staff. For many of us in the profession, that behaviour was the wellspring of deep sadness. What has the profession come to, we asked ourselves and each other as, day after day, the insults, name-calling, ill-informed commentary and blatant lies spewed forth from various Facebook pages.

Caution by NZNO and DHBs

In this fraught context, work on LPS continued in preparation for the second strike on July 12. Again, there are rules that determine how this work is done. If, on strike day, there were more staff than usual, that was about NZNO and the DHBs being cautious – nobody wanted the day to be compromised by tragedy or disaster.

The strike went ahead, a resounding success, some would say – street marches, flag-waving, public support, media coverage – and finally a result.

So what now? Perhaps it is time for a look in the collective mirror. As a profession that espouses critical thinking, compassion, empathy and communication as key to who we are, it begs the question: Are those the values that looked back at us from Facebook?

The preferable course is that we move forward together. We have achieved some excellent outcomes. Together, we can reboot CCDM to ensure workplaces are staffed safely and we can work toward 100 per cent employment in a nurse-entry-to-practice/specialist-practice programme for all new graduate nurses. We can also begin to implement NZNO’s Strategy for Nursing and, in doing so, effect real change for the profession.

We would do well to heed the words of American essayist, cartoonist and humourist, James Thurber: “Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.”