In the biting southerly wind and rain, having nothing to eat or drink for more than 30 hours, eight nurses from India say they will continue protesting at the bottom of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Wellington train station until their employment complaints are heard.
And they have been partly successful, with the Nurses Council agreeing to meet with the protesters tomorrow.
The group's spokesman, Abin Mathai told APNZ the nurses, mostly from Kerala in south west India, completed a three-year diploma in general nursing and midwifery in India.
He said they were told by the New Zealand Nursing Council they were eligible to register as nurses in New Zealand if they passed an English language exam.
However, when they arrived, their applications were declined and they were told their qualifications did not meet standards here.
Mr Mathai said they had been on a hunger strike, including no water, since yesterday (Tue) at 9am.
He said the group was "starving", but the weather was so cold he almost didn't notice his hunger.
This afternoon the temperature was 9degC, but with the wind chill, the temperature felt more like 6degC, according to the MetService website.
Tonight the temperature was expected to reach 7degC, but that was not taking into account the southerly wind that was buffeting the area.
"We are shivering all the time," Mr Mathai said.
He disputed the council's assertion they were not qualified and said that if that was the case, about 3000 Indian nurses with the same qualifications should be immediately stopped from working.
This afternoon, they had received an email from the Nurses Council agreeing to see them for a meeting tomorrow.
"The main media person said the council was interested in negotiating with us."
Mr Mathai said he wants the council to allow them to immediately start work in New Zealand.
The public had been very supportive of the protest, he said.
Mr Mathai, who was visibly upset, said the group was prepared to die for their cause.
"We have all each wasted $20,000 here. What's the point of all that money being wasted in the New Zealand economy. We feel really sad about that."
The Nurses Council chief executive, Carolyn Reed, denied the council ever encouraged the group to come into the country.
"If you look at our website it is very clear that people don't come here unless they have a confirmed placement."
She said they had not replied to the group's emails until today because they did not know who the individual nurses were.
"We only deal with individuals."
However, the council has bowed to pressure to meet the group as a whole tomorrow because Ms Reed said it "wasn't a good look for the country" for people to go on hunger strikes for not being given registration to work.
She said there was no guarantee they could offer any of the men anything, "but we might be able to do something for some of them".
Ms Reed said the Nurses Council would talk with the men first before making any decisions.
- APNZBy Rebecca Quilliam Email Rebecca