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Thirty-thousand nurses are striking on Wednesday - calling for an end to chronic under-funding and burn-out.
The strike action comes after the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) rejected a second pay offer, with the union describing District Health Board working conditions as "outrageous".
NZNO has asked for a 17 percent increase - but the Government has said it can't afford it.
What you need to know:
- Nurses are striking over pay as well as what they say are poor working conditions
- Strike action will take place between 11am and 7pm
- District Health Boards say while there will be disruptions, people will be able to receive emergency care
- The Council of Trade Unions is calling for the Government to step in over the pay dispute.
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2.30pm- Association for Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Sarah Dalton says although the Government has invested more than previous ones it's not enough.
"Every day is a tough day at the office for the health care workforce," she told Newshub.
"If these people were a motorway [the Government would] call it a shovel ready project and fix it but they're people and if we don't look after them they won't be able to care for people and their families."
2.15pm - Andrew Little says it's "disappointing" an agreement over pay has not yet been reached and says the Government will continue to support nurses.
"We've added more nurses to the workforce and we're going to continue to do that - we've increased the pay and will continue to do so... it is disappointing we're not there yet."
Asked about his rough reception at the protest, Little said he wasn't surprised.
"As I get around the hospitals and talk to nurses they are expressing real disappointment and understandably so - underpaying nurses has been going on for a long time."
He says the Government is committed to a payrise.
"We did a significant payrise in 2018 and we're committed to pay equity - better facilities.
"In the end, good nurses, good healthcare and good midwives is good for New Zealand."
2pm - Minister of Health Andrew Little did not have such a warm reception - as he stepped to the microphone the waiting crowd erupted into boos.
"I know that you are here because you care - I hear your message and we don't disagree," he told them.
"Then give us a better offer!" a woman shouted back.
He was almost drowned out by protesters yelling - asking when and where they would get more nurses, and when pay would be better.
"Give us some money! Give us fair pay!"
1:50pm - Debbie Ngarewa-Packer was also welcomed by cheers as she acknowledged the waiting crowd.
"We see you when you broke your safe, home bubbles to look after this nation! And it's so sad to see you have to do all this today."
She said the Māori Party supports the strike action.
"We need to make sure you get fair pay!".
She then led the chant: "What do you want!" as nurses replied "fair pay!"
1:45pm - The National Party's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti has thanked the protesting nurses for what they do.
"In my clinical life, I worked alongside many of you for decades and I know your value."
He was cheered on by the crowd for suggesting the Government money allocated to restructure the District Health Boards would be better spent boosting pay for nurses.
1.30pm - Hundreds of protesting nurses have gathered outside the Beehive in Wellington to confront politicians.
Māori Party MPs Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi travelled down the front line of nurses, shaking hands and kissing cheeks as Andrew Little stood back from the crowd.
The crowd was chanting for fair pay - and even requested the Prime Minister.
"We want Jacinda!" one person could be heard screaming.
"Why isn't she standing with us?"
1:25pm - The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says it fully supports striking nurses.
"Nurses are the glue who hold care services together," president Julian Vyas said. "They are dedicated, compassionate and expert health officials.
"If they are on strike, you can be sure there's a big problem which needs to be fixed," Dr Vyas added.
1:07pm - The Government is being warned it's running out of excuses. Association for Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Sarah Dalton says there's no time like the present.
"Now is actually a really good time to invest in core public services like health and education," she told Newshub. "Borrowing is cheap and it's a really good investment in terms of the return that the Government will see."
Dalton says too many nurses are flying across the ditch to Australia to find better work conditions.
1:03pm - In Auckland, thousands of nurses have packed on to Queen St. Speaking from the protest, Newshub's Ella Prendergast says nurses have told her just how undervalued they feel.
In Wellington, droves have marched to Parliament to have their voices heard.
1pm - Nurses are about to march from Christchurch's Hagley Park to the city's Bridge of Remembrance.
Newshub's Mel Logan says there's a wall of nurses opposite Christchurch Hospital.
12:56pm - Nelson City councillor Rohan O'Neill-Stevens says he's "honoured and proud" to support Whakatū nurses.
12:48pm - All Wellington CBD bus services will detour due to the strike, Metlink says.
12:30pm - Speaking to Magic Talk's Peter Williams earlier, Newshub reporter Heather McCarron said there were throngs of nurses arriving at Christchurch's Hagley Park.
"The energy is really high here - I think these nurses really are feeling the public support."
12:20pm - The Green Party says it supports the striking nurses.
"Nurses are exhausted, stressed and worried about their patients and the future of our health system," Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Jan Logie says. "They put themselves on the line for us during the pandemic and as a country it's now our time to get behind them.
"When people are overworked and not able to do their job as well as they know people deserve, the toll on their wellbeing is really significant."
12:05pm - Nurses Newshub spoke to say they are desperate for more recognition.
"We have been reduced to having to do this... This is not want nurses want," one said.
"The unwellness of our patients has dramatically increased over the years and our nurses are stressed out, burnt out," said another.
12pm - The atmosphere is charged in Christchurch as nurses and passing motorists make themselves heard.
Newshub's Heather McCarron is outside Christchurch Hospital and says well over 1000 nurses have gathered.
"There's a constant stream of car horns in support," she says. "The nurses themselves are cheering as they wave their signs."
11:50am - In Canterbury, its DHB says visits from whānau and support people is especially welcome during strike action.
"You'd also be most welcome to help with non-clinical tasks, but being there to support and reassure your family member or the person you support is the most important thing.
"While our focus will be on minimising the impact on patients, lower staffing levels will slow things down.
"Our staff would greatly appreciate your patience and understanding at this time."
11:45am - The Auckland District Health Board says patient safety remains its top priority amid strike action.
"Anyone who is in hospital will get the safe care they need," the DHB said in a statement. "While there might be some delays, we have clinical teams available to care for patients."
11:37am - Speaking from outside Christchurch Hospital, Newshub's Emily O'Connell says thousands of nurses have gathered.
"They're loud, they're passionate and they're hopeful that today's strike will mean they get a better deal with DHBs."
11:33am - There's also a massive rally being held in Auckland later on Wednesday afternoon - where striking nurses will march up Queen St.
Auckland Transport says Queen St will be closed between Custom St and Myers Park.
11:30am - In Christchurch, barebques have been set up for striking nurses at the city's Hagley Park - opposite the hospital.
Striking union members have told Newshub they will be there most of the day.
11:15am - Earlier, clinical nurse specialist Diane McCulloch accused the Government of betrayal.
McCulloch told The AM Show she voted Labour expecting more support but says she'll think twice next time.
"The nurses have put their lives at risk... and this is the thanks that we are given. It shows that we are not being valued."
11:08am - Sarah Dalton, from the Association for Salaried Medical Specialists, says it's time politicians step up to the plate.
"Talk is cheap," she told Newshub. "It's very easy to say that we value our nurses and our doctors, but let's see what that looks like for people who have got families to feed, bills to pay [and] housing costs."
11:06am - Ron Angel, from the NZNO, says nurses will be striking in Christchurch for hours.
"We're planning to be here for most of the day," he told Newshub.
11:03am - Speaking from Christchurch's Hagley Park where strike action is underway, Newshub's Heather McCarron says the nurses are getting plenty of support.
"The union has 4500 members in Canterbury and it's expected most of them will show up."
After 1pm, the nurses will make their way into Christchurch's CBD.
11am - Earlier, clinical nurse specialist Diane McCulloch said staffing shortages were crippling the health system.
"Our hospitals are overrun," she told The AM Show on Wednesday. "The ED's are overflowing. The hospital beds are over capacity - our health care system is in dire straits."