Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's confident the New Zealand nurses' pay claim can "absolutely" be resolved, though strike action could still happen.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) members rejected an offer of a 2 percent pay rise from the New Zealand DHBs last month, saying that it was not enough.
The union is holding a vote on whether to strike for two days in July, if a mediation panel between nurses and the DHBs can't come to an agreement over their contracts.
"There is potential for a ballot around strike action and nurses are absolutely within their rights to do that, but I think all sides hope for a resolution soon," Ms Ardern told The AM Show.
"The process that we're in at the moment we've made a suggestion of using an independent person to bring together a panel...that process is going well, both sides are involved."
The Prime Minister said the public should keep in mind that nurses are concerned about both their pay and their working conditions.
"I think we do a disservice to the nurses simply focusing on the monetary side, of course that's important but actually there are issues around their conditions which should be raised in the context of these negotiations. They're under stress and strain as our DHBs are."
She said the Government's upcoming Budget in May will factor in pay claims including from nurses, teachers, and police.
NZNO members have a month to vote on whether to walk off the job for two 24 hour slots, one week apart, in July.
If a strike goes ahead, nurses are legally required to ensure that life preserving services are still provided.
"There is potential for a ballot around strike action and nurses are absolutely within their rights to do that but I think all sides hope for a resolution soon," Ms Ardern said.