Up to 150 people braved the rain and marched through central Whangārei to call for better pay and working conditions of healthcare workers in Northland.

The march on Saturday was one of 15 organised by nurse Florence #hearourvoices throughout New Zealand to highlight the plight of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.

It was separate from a rally outside Whangārei Hospital last month by members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation ahead of receiving strike ballots.

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Health care professionals in Northland rally for better working conditions


However, the issues they are fighting for are the same.

Both union and non-union members as well as members of the public took part in Saturday's march, which started from the old Countdown building in Kensington and ended at the Cameron St Mall.

March organiser Val McAlister said wet weather reduced the turnout but said it was pleasing to see nurses from as far away as Hokianga and Kerikeri turn up.

"We hope we don't have to strike or put the lives of any patients at risk. We want peaceful negotiations on pay equity so that we keep our nurses in New Zealand," she said.

Chronic understaffing, missed meal and tea breaks, unpaid overtime, and low wages were the key issues, she said.

McAlister said those issues impacted on not only those within the health sector but also patients, whānau, and communities. She said nurses have been silent for too long.

"We have a huge area to cover in Northland and we do that as best we can but there needs to be safer staffing. Nursing is very different from any other job where you put the tools down and leave. Nurses can't do that."

The average age of a nurse in New Zealand is 55, she said.


"If we don't do something to stop the lifeblood hemorrhaging from our health service, we are in trouble. Pay parity and look after the nurses who look after you."