Nurses are "determined" and "ready to fight" for better working conditions, higher pay and safer staffing at an eight-hour strike in the Bay of Plenty.
Strikes will take place nationwide from 11am to 7pm, affecting all public hospitals and DHB facilities in New Zealand. They will involve nurses, midwives and hospital assistants.
This comes as the New Zealand Nurses Union "overwhelmingly" rejected a second district health board offer in the multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations.
A Rotorua Hospital nurse, who asked to remain anonymous, said her main motivation for striking was safer levels of staffing. She has been a nurse for more than 20 years.
"It has got worse in the last few years and it is time that the hospitals started looking after their staff," she said.
"I have reached the stage in my career where I just think, enough is enough. We have to take a stand.
"Nurses are being asked to do extra shifts, extra hours and it gets to point that it is unsafe for the patient and for the nursing staff."
She was regularly working between 50-60 hours each week.
After 60-hour weeks, she spent her time sleeping all weekend to recover.
"There is no work-life balance. If your a wife, a mother, you want to go to the gym - you might as well kiss it all goodbye because you are too tired to do much else.
"This is not what we signed up for."
Whakatāne nurse Cheryl Hammond, who was "shocked" by the latest health board offer, said nurses in the area were ready to take a stand.
"They want to show we are all united and are ready to fight for better working conditions, pay, safe staffing and making sure we can care for our patients."
The decision to strike was not easy, she said.
Hammond had been in the profession for 43 years and feared for its future.
"As a nurse, I deeply do not want to strike. It is only the second time I have done this in my working career, she said.
"We are getting tired and exhausted. I am feeling very tired after all my years of nursing, and I worry about the future of nursing.
"We are doing this for our nursing career, but it is also for making sure our patients are cared for in the future."
It was getting harder to meet the needs of patients as the demand for their service increased, she said.
"Making a difference in our patients' lives is what keeps me going as a nurse, but that gets harder every day."
Hammond understood how the strike would cause disruption and difficulty for many patients.
"We know that outpatients and elective surgeries have been cancelled, and we regret that greatly because we know how it will impact on people. But this is the only way we can actually have the DHBs across the country listen to us."
New Zealand Nursing Organisation lead advocate David Wait said there was a high voter turnout from the 30,000 members who worked at district health boards.
"Members are facing serious nursing workforce issues, with pay rates that do not attract people into the profession or retain the people we have, and staffing levels which stretch them to breaking point, putting them and their patients at risk."
A Lakes District Health Board spokesperson said the strike would cause disruptions to services, but the DHB was doing "everything possible" to ensure patient safety.
More than 220 outpatient appointments had been deferred due to the strike, along with 27 surgical procedures.
Contingency planning meetings have been held regularly at Rotorua Hospital since the health board received notice, said the spokesperson.
"Our contingency planning team has been working closely with managers and clinical leaders on ensuring the continuing provision of essential services including emergency surgery, emergency department care, intensive care, and maternity care."
They had been focussing on trying to reduce the number of patients in the hospital in the days leading up to the strike, however, winter conditions and pressure were making it "difficult to achieve".
"We will be providing essential services including emergency surgery, emergency department care, intensive care, and maternity care.
"Only urgent cases will be able to be dealt with at the Emergency Department at Rotorua and Taupō hospitals during the industrial action," said the spokesperson.
People with minor health issues were being asked to visit their family doctor or Lakes PrimeCare.
In Rotorua, nurses will picket both sides of Ranolf St and Kuirau Park from 11am until 7pm.