New Zealand Nurses Organisation will head back to the negotiating table today with hopes of finally settling on an agreed pay offer with District Health Boards.

The latest offer, worth $500 million, would have seen all nurses receive a pay rise of at least 9.5 per cent in the next year, with more senior staff promised even more.

But NZNO members voted to reject the offer and strike. More than 8000 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants walked off the job last Thursday.

A NZNO spokeswoman said yesterday that DHB representatives requested to meet with the NZNO negotiating team to discuss an offer.


"The negotiating team is looking forward to meaningful discussions in an endeavour to deliver a proposed MECA [Multi-Employer Collective Agreement] that can be taken back to members for ratification," the NZNO spokeswoman said.

She said a report back will be given tomorrow with the outcome of today's discussions.

After the previous rejection, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said the current offer was "the best we can do" and that there was no more money available.

On top of the $500m package deal, an extra $38m was promised to hire 500 extra staff to prevent nurses from working long hours and picking up extra shifts.

This morning Peters stood by previous comments saying the Government could pay nurses more if it didn't have to spend money on other priorities such as police, infrastructure, transport and conservation.

"Of course we could do that for nurses if we made other sacrifices. But at the end of the day we're trying to do all this, and also do it in terms of one Budget.

"There is still room for the nurses to come to us on some things we can handle in terms of what they might want, but to expect us to do it ... in the space of one Budget is a bit too much.

"I wouldn't mind bringing them in and saying, 'You have a look at the books and see what's left here'."