‘Striking for a better health system’ – Speech to Auckland NZNO rally

On 12 July 2018 nurses, midwives and health care assistants walked off the job at DHBs nationwide for the first time in almost thirty years. In Auckland, thousands NZNO members and supporters of the strike marched up Queen Street to rally in Aotea Square and listen to delegates from the city’s three DHBs – Gui Restall, Sela Ikavuka, Alys Moriarty and Joel Peeperkorn. The Chair of NZNO’s Greater Auckland Regional Council, Esther Linklater, CTU Māori Vice-President Syd Keepa and NZNO Lead Organiser Carol Beaumont also spoke. It was my honour and privilege to make this short announcement first. 

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Kia ora. What a wonderful sight you all are! 

I have two brief messages to deliver. The first one is for you, the NZNO members gathered here. 

I want you to know that the whole of NZNO is behind you today. I would like to read a statement from the Board of Directors, the elected governing body of your organisation:

“We offer our solidarity and support to all our members who are on strike and picketing. We also acknowledge those who are on rosters for life preserving services taking care of the public at this time. And we thank all members for their support.”

The second message, before I hand over to our wonderful member speakers, is for the public and the government.

Today we are striking today for a better a health system for us all. This is a message from all of us to the government and the employers. And I think it’s one that they can share. I believe the government and the DHBs also want a better health system for us all. 

The government say they can’t make up for nine years of underfunding in a single Budget, and that it’s going to take time. And I think we understand, deep down, that there is some truth to that. 

But we also want the government to understand something in return. They need to move faster, and they need to start with a bigger step right now! 

The last thing is for any members of the public who are here, or watching on live streams. Today’s action, this is for you. So please show your support for our nurses today. 

Thank you. 

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