From 11am today, 30,000 nurses, healthcare assistants and midwives across the country walked off the job for eight hours.
The strike comes after the New Zealand Nurses Organisation overwhelmingly rejected a second DHB offer in multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations.
Wellington nurses gathered in Civic Square at midday before marching to Parliament.
Nurses in Wairarapa will march to the town square in Masterton between 12-1.30pm then back to the Wairarapa hospital from 1.30pm–3pm.
Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs said they will experience staffing gaps and will need to prioritise essential and acute services over others.
This means that some planned services and outpatient appointments may need to be rescheduled.
The Emergency Departments at both Wellington Regional Hospital and Hutt Hospital will remain open during the strike for urgent cases; however, people are asked to call their GP or Healthline for advice in the first instance.
Someone assessed as not having an urgent need may be redirected to their GP or medical centre, an after-hours clinic, or asked to return the following day.
Theatre nurse Kimberly Arboleda said staffing shortages are a major problem.
"It's very rarely that I will come onto a shift and we'll have the correct amount of nurses to for our patients."
Wellington nurse Jeff Osorio said the current conditions are "just ridiculous".
"It is really hard seeing all the nurses moving to Australia because it is better conditions and better pay."
The organisation is calling on the Government for a 17 per-cent across-the-board pay rise.
Wellington nurse Helen Kemp said they hope to send a clear message to the Government and DHBs that they need to value the nurses they have and give adequate pay to make the occupation attractive.
"By comparison to what's offered in Australia we are definitely the poor cousins."
Kemp said they are also striking for safer working conditions.
"Nurses are expected to come to work in unsafe working conditions having to carry extra caseloads. That's far too many patients for safety numbers and they are just getting burnt out."
NZNO lead advocate David Wait said the second DHB offer was not significantly different to the first and did not address the issues.
"Our members are genuinely concerned that nursing shortages would increase if it was accepted, and that standards of care for all in Aotearoa New Zealand would suffer as a result."
He said nobody wants to strike but the best way to avoid them in the future is through a fair and decent offer.