The nurses' union and district health boards are due to meet again next week as the stand-off over pay and working conditions continues.
The nationwide 24-hour nurses' strike ended at 7am yesterday but both sides appear to be sticking to their guns.
The New Zealand Nurses' Organisation (NZNO) has about 1500 members at the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and the organisation said more than 500 took part in the strike.
Hundreds of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants protested outside Tauranga Hospital on Thursday.
Angela Neil, NZNO organiser for the Bay of Plenty DHB, said most of the nurses were committed to carrying on the fight and would be willing to strike again if no new offer was made.
For a lot of nurses it was about recognition of skills and qualifications and the constant professional development and upskilling required, she said.
Neil said no nurses wanted to strike and, hopefully, the powers that be would go back into negotiation with the understanding it was not just about people getting a pay rise.
For years nurses had gone without their breaks, she said. They finished late, came into work early and gave hours of free time every week.
But that goodwill had now dried up.
"You can keep saying there's no money, and they [the nurses] can keep saying well, there's no goodwill left. They've got nothing left. They're tired. They're saying, actually the three or four hours that I maybe give you for free, I want to give to my family at home.
Neil said a powerful message was delivered around the country this week.
Yesterday Health Minister David Clark reiterated comments by Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and Finance Minister Grant Robertson from earlier this week that there would be no more money for the nurses' salary package.
"We're committed to sustainably funding nursing, that's why we did double the money that went into the offer but we've reached the end of that process where we have extra money to put in."
Clark said it was clear neither the DHBs nor the nurses wanted more strike action and both sides wanted to reach an agreement.
"Both sides are highly motivated to find a way through, and I think the ERA [Employment Relations Authority] recommendations hint at a way forward.
"But actually it's time to press pause, to allow people to reflect on those recommendations before they come back to discuss them further."
Bay of Plenty DHB chief executive Helen Mason yesterday thanked staff at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals for handling "a difficult situation incredibly well".
"Walking around the wards last night and this morning I was blown away by how everybody – volunteers, doctors, nurses, Allied Health, Te Pou Kokiri – all pulled together and worked to ensure the safety of our patients and of each other," she said.
"In what has been a challenging time people demonstrated exceptional teamwork and camaraderie and it was wonderful to see.
"The fact hospitals have been able to provide the services they have is testament to that effort, which includes the contingency planning and preparation of the last three months."
She said hospitals reported more staff and volunteers than planned, and occupancy levels were as expected.
"Importantly, from a patient safety perspective, the arrangements for life-preserving services worked as planned.
"I want to thank the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation members who made themselves available to work and provide life-preserving cover."
Mason also thanked the public for their understanding and patience during the strike.
Both Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals' emergency departments experienced lower than usual numbers of attendances during the strike.
On Thursday Mason called the strike "unprecedented".
She said GPs and primary care providers had also played their part and Healthline had been slightly busier than usual for a Thursday in July.
Outpatient clinics at the two hospitals, which on an average day have 1605 people passing through them, were closed during the strike.
Fifty-five elective surgeries (16 in Whakatāne and 39 in Tauranga) were rescheduled.
The revised offer nurses voted against was worth $500 million.
It was the fourth offer from DHBs and would see all nurses receive a pay rise of at least 9.5 per cent in the next year.
It included a further 3 per cent pay rise for those at the top of their field to provide a more equitable outcome, $38 million in new funding to provide safe staffing levels in hospitals and community-based organisations and a guarantee any pay equity claims would be assessed and implemented by December 31, 2019.
- Additional reporting: NZ Herald