Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

Nurses won historic pay rise, but some still waiting for up to $23k to show up

Isaac Davison,
Publish Date
Wed, 11 Oct 2023, 3:40PM

Nurses won historic pay rise, but some still waiting for up to $23k to show up

Isaac Davison,
Publish Date
Wed, 11 Oct 2023, 3:40PM

Up to 10,000 nurses are yet to receive their much-celebrated pay rises because Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand is struggling to process the payments.

Sector representatives said the delayed payments were adding frustration to an understaffed workforce, and some say they have sold household items to pay their bills.

Te Whatu Ora-employed nurses and healthcare assistants voted for a pay equity deal in July which recognised years of gender-based discrimination in the predominantly female sector.

It was a significant agreement years in the making, and Labour has trumpeted the subsequent pay increases on the campaign trail as evidence of how nurses are better off under this Government.

However, in four areas - Auckland, Waitematā, Counties Manukau and Nelson - nurses are still waiting for the pay equity increases to be applied. The payments were meant to be in their bank accounts by September 27 at the very latest.

Many nurses have also not received a separate pay increase from the collective negotiations, which were due three weeks ago.

One registered nurse - who spoke on condition of anonymity - said she was owed around $23,000 from the two pay rises. She had been forced to sell her motorbike to pay her bills.

“I’ve got some repairs on my house that need doing and I was expecting to have the money by now,” she said.

 “There’s a lot of people like me that are selling their bikes and cars and houses because they can’t afford to live. Because this money is supposed to have been paid and we had budgeted for it.”

The nurse said that the payment situation was an added frustration on top of understaffing and high workplace demands, which were pushing some colleagues to consider a shift to the private sector.

“People will say, ‘Oh well, you’ll get backpay’. But right now, we’re in shit street.”

Te Whatu Ora chief people officer Andrew Slater apologised for the delays.

The agency was working with 28 different payroll systems inherited from the old district health board system - some of which required investment, he said.

Payroll staff were also processing a large number and variety of agreements and payments, while also juggling Holidays Act remediation. More payroll staff were being hired to cope with these demands.

“We know our people are frustrated and we’re sorry about that,” Slater said in a statement. “We’re trying to make sure people have clarity around the timeframe for payments so those still waiting have a better idea when the money will be in their accounts. We know how important that is for them.”

Slater said almost all payments would be completed by Christmas - nearly three months after the original deadline.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) chief executive Paul Goulter said Te Whatu Ora’s excuses were “unacceptable” because the union had allowed the health agency to set its own timeframes for payment.

“In the course of the bargaining we put it really clearly - give us a timeline that meets your internal requirements and we will put that timeline to members as part of ratification.

“In good faith, we settled that agreement and our members voted for it on that basis.”

Nurses were angry and frustrated at the delays, Goulter said.

“These nurses have waited seven or eight years for pay equity to be achieved. And then at the last moment, the employer comes up with a problem that is not the employees’ fault.”

The pay equity deal brought nursing wages into line with similar, male-dominated professions.

The deal, combined with this year’s collective increases, lifted senior nurses’ annual pay to between $114,025 and $162,802 a year and registered nurses to between $75,773 and $106,739 a year.

Isaac Davison is an Auckland-based reporter who covers health issues. He joined the Herald in 2008 and has previously covered the environment, politics, and social issues.


Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you