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A steady stream of nurses and supporters walked the Invercargill streets in protest yesterday.
Between 50 and 100 people gathered at Wachner Pl at 1.30pm and brandished flags, banners and signs for higher pay and safe staffing levels.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation organiser Colette Wright said its nurses were highly skilled and trained, and passionate about what they do.
"But they are running, because they are working short every shift ... the nurses believe the ministry isn’t listening.
"This is a really solvable issue."
Southland Hospital clinical nurse specialist Charleen Waddell said many of those striking had been nurses for 20 to 30 years.
"In that time we have seen the change in equity for our patients and the workloads we are dealing with, as well as the expectations of long and extra shifts being put on our staff."
In Queenstown, Mayor Jim Boult showed his support for the strike, briefly joining the nurses.
Jeanette Anderson, a nurse for 15 years, said they kept the healthcare system running.
"All we want is fair pay and safe staffing so we can do our job."
She had not had a pay rise since 2018.
There were more nurses retiring or leaving than entering the profession, Ms Anderson said.
— Additional reporting Daniel Alvey