- The strike is scheduled to start at 11am and finish at 7pm
- All elective surgery cases and nearly all outpatient clinics are being deferred for the day
- Small number of nursing staff are on call to allow for emergency surgery to proceed.
- Those with urgent medical needs will still be able to attend hospital or dial 111.
Tauranga nurses have downed tools, joining hundreds around the country to highlight their anger with pay and working conditions.
Between 200 and 300 nurses and supporters have marched from St Enochs Church to Tauranga Hospital. Nurses and supporters could be heard chanting "life saving skills but I can't pay my bills" as traffic tooted in support.
Tauranga nurse Rebekah Opie expressed gratitude for the nurses who walked off the ward this morning.
She told the crowd that they were striking in unity.
"We are here as one," she said. "We are resolute."
Nurses and supporters are holding signs reading "Safer staffing now", "Stand with us" and "Fair pay for nursing".
Cars driving by were tooting in support of protesters who were making their way down to Tauranga Hospital.
Tauranga Hospital nurse Alex Dowds said he was fighting for equal pay. Dowds said it wasn't uncommon for him to work an eight and a half hour shift without being able to take any kind of break.
Another nurse, who didn't want to be identified, said she wanted to be recognised for the hard work she puts in. She was only in her second year of nursing and said the two years had been "crazy".
The strike is affecting all public hospitals and DHB facilities in New Zealand and involves nurses, midwives and hospital assistants.
Offer "overwhelmingly" rejected
The New Zealand Nurses Union "overwhelmingly" rejected a second district health board offer in the multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations.
New Zealand Nursing Organisation lead advocate David Wait said there was a high voter turnout from the 30,000 members who worked at district health boards.
"Members are facing serious nursing workforce issues, with pay rates that do not attract people into the profession or retain the people we have, and staffing levels which stretch them to breaking point, putting them and their patients at risk."
About 350 Bay of Plenty District Health Board patients would be affected by the strikes.
Tauranga Hospital and Whakatāne Hospital would only be open for emergency, essential services and urgent medical care.
The majority of non-essential services and planned surgeries had been postponed.
The district health board nurses strike incident controller Dorothy McKeown said patients who had appointments deferred would not be disadvantaged.
They would have already been offered a new date or one would be forthcoming, she said.
"Since notification of potential industrial action by the NZNO, the district health board has had a contingency planning group in place.
"The contingency planners have systematically worked across all services to ensure plans are in place leading up to, and on the day of, industrial action to ensure the safety of our patients and teams that will be working."
Patients would be prioritised by virtue of the highest clinical need, she said.
Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation chief executive officer Lindsey Webber anticipated general practices might get a slight increase in patient numbers because of the strike.
Webber said there were no major concerns around the impact of the strike at the "practice level".
"We would advise people to call ahead to their practice first," she said