About 40 paid union meetings are being held across the country for members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation who work for Te Whatu Ora/Health New Zealand.
NZNO chief executive Paul Goulter said the aim was to put pressure on the health agency and the new government to increase funding to the sector and fix the nursing shortage.
He said members had made it clear that they expected pay levels to match the cost of living.
The union's Wellington delegate, Nathan Clark, said the issue of safety in the workplace was also being raised.
"Some of the big issues that we're still trying to negotiate and have discussions with Te Whatu Ora isn't around wages and conditions. Some of those is safety and staffing - that's one of our big issues that's been going on for a number of years."
Research showed that safe staffing and better nurse-to-patient ratios led to better outcomes for patients, he said.
Nurse shortages also needed to be tackled, he said.
"We need to look at serious recruitment and retention issues to train more nurses to attract people into the healthcare industry and to try and bring some of those ones back."
With Te Whatu Ora having been notified of the planned union meetings, Clark said the union anticipated little disruption for patients.
"We are hoping that it will cause minimal disruption to as opposed to other forms of industrial action such as strikes and withdrawal of labour."
Te Whatu Ora has been approached for comment.