Nurses’ rally part of day of action nationwide

Invercargill health care staff members, their family and friends gather at a rally at the Gala St...
Invercargill health care staff members, their family and friends gather at a rally at the Gala St Reserve on Saturday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Invercargill nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora (health workers) stood up in solidarity at the weekend with a clear message about the need for change.

Organised by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO), the rally at the Gala St Reserve focused on promoting the "five fixes" of NZNO.

This consisted of: Te Tiriti o Waitangi being actualised within the health system, getting more nurses across the health sector, pay and conditions that met nurses’ value and expectations in the health care system, "earn as you learn" for nurses in training, and a call for more Māori and Pasifika nurses.

It was held from 11am to noon on Saturday, and was one of 19 rallies held throughout New Zealand.

People came together to march, listen to speeches and wave banners, as well as enjoy family-focused activities.

NZNO president Anne Daniels said it was a historic moment across the nation and in the history of the organisation, as nurses from every sector came together in support.

It was extremely positive and affirming to hear that people came to support the rallies, she said

"Every nurse throughout the country knows what we need and are standing up for that, and it is only going to get bigger and louder."

She attended the rally in Wellington, where more than 2000 nurses and members of the public were present, and marched from Civic Square to Parliament.

The rallies were a great opportunity to call on political parties to have policies this election to address the nursing crisis.

"These are five easy fixes. We should not be in court fighting out own government about legislation that they put into place in the first place.

"Nurses are leaving because they are not being paid well and respected, and their conditions of work are not supporting their ability to provide safe care."

She believed the issue affected every New Zealander, as everyone depended on the health care system.

"We [nurses] are there from ... [birth] to death, we are taking care of patients at their bedside, guiding them to the best health that they possibly can be in, and so there is absolutely no choice for us."