New Zealand Nursing Organisation (NZNO) Hawkes' Bay members had plenty of toots in support of their rally outside Hawke's Bay Hospital this afternoon to highlight their concerns about safe staffing, pay and working conditions.
About 400 nursing staff, supporters, family and friends took part in the rally from 2pm to 6pm, joining in when their shifts finished or coming in especially on their day off to support the cause.
Dressed in white and purple T-shirts, with purple wigs, sunglasses, fairy wings and balloons in evidence, they gathered outside the main entrance with placards calling for "Good health needs valued nurses", "Look after us so we can look after you", and "Recognise our value".
Their chanting, whistling and singing prompted plenty of motorists to parp their horns as they passed the rally, the last of several held around the country over the last couple of weeks.
NZNO Kaiwhakaharae Kerri Nuku attended to tautoko the kaupapapa of the rally.
"All nurses do their very best but are increasingly telling me they leave work distressed that their workloads are increasingly unmanageable and that their quality care is compromised," she said.
"I have enormous respect for the tireless efforts made by nurses given to the people of Te Matau a Maui."
Local NZNO delegate Tarryn Worsley joined the rally at 3.30pm, after finishing her shift, and managing to spare 10 minutes for a late lunch at 2pm.
Such pressures on time were par for the course among nurses who were working extremely hard in the face of staff shortages over many years, she said.
"We are feeling the strain. We need resolution to the relentless pressure in an underfunded public health service.
"I fear that the situation is making nursing unattractive to prospective nurses and is unfortunately increasingly unattractive to our highly valuable, experienced nurses.
"I always wanted to be a nurse and enjoy my profession but now feel alarmed that nursing in New Zealand hospitals is being viewed as too stressful and not appropriately valued."
She said all those who attended the rally were feeling proactive and passionate.
"They are feeling ready to stand up, which is nice.
"We want to be able to care for people how we would want our families to be cared for and we can't do that with the workloads."
Meanwhile, NZNO DHB members who were party to the multi-employer collective agreement, were to receive their ballot papers this week to vote on proposed strike action if an impasse over the agreement was not resolved though an independent panel process, as proposed by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern.
NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne said possible strike action would be a last resort, but could consist of two strikes for 24 hours each starting at 7am, with a week between the two strikes.
Hawke's Bay District Health Board chief executive Kevin Snee said the action taken yesterday was a lawful right, and that patient care was not affected during the rally.
District health boards were optimistic the independent panel would recommend a pathway which would settle pay talks with NZNO nurses, healthcare assistants and midwives, Dr Snee said.