Crunch time to settle nurses' pay is being dragged out until next week but bargaining is under way.

The New Zealand Nurses' Organisation and district health boards met in Wellington yesterday to discuss a fifth offer.

NZNO spokeswoman Karen Coltman said delegates were exploring options to settle the current employment negotiations for the DHB Multi-Employer Collective Agreement for midwives and nurses.

"NZNO and DHBs are focused on reaching a settlement through bargaining."

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The parties will meet for further negotiations next Tuesday, July 24.

Both the NZNO and DHBs have refused to comment further until next week's meeting.

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 for 24 hours last Thursday.