Welcome to the new NZNO Board

NZNO members have spoken. The results of the 2019 NZNO Board Election are in. 

The new Board represents the biggest change for our elected leadership since the positions were opened up to all-member ballots through the NZNO Constitution.

There are six new Board members on our eleven-member Board. They will take office at the NZNO AGM next Tuesday. 

I thank all of the candidates who put themselves forward. People who stand for election, with all of the scrutiny, stress and personal sacrifice this entails, do a great service to NZNO. They enable us to debate – and provide us with choices about – the future of our organisation. 

I congratulate the successful incoming and re-elected Board members – Anne Daniels, Katrina Hopkinson, Sela Ikavuka, Margaret Hand, Simon Auty, Andrew Cunningham and Anamaria Watene.

With this line-up, I am confident that NZNO has a governance team who can take the organisation forward. Together we can strengthen our organisation to work for the benefit of NZNO members and for the health of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

I look forward to welcoming all the newcomers to the Board, alongside Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, at our first scheduled face-to-face meeting in October. 

NZNO injunction application proceeds as DHB MECA report drops

Media Release: NZNO President

27 August, 2019

Last-ditch mediation between the President and the Board of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation ended in Wellington today without agreement. The President is opposing the Board’s attempt to remove him from office over a complaint laid by a senior NZNO staff member in July 2018, and other allegations yet to be released. 

The failed talks took place on the same day that the NZNO Chief Executive released the DHB/NZNO MECA Negotiation Process Independent Review Report

“The Independent Review Report lays bare the tensions within NZNO at the time that the senior staffer laid the complaint against me”, said NZNO President Grant Brookes. 

The Independent Review Report found that the pressures which came onto the organisation and individuals during the 2018 DHB MECA negotiations were intense and, at times, almost overwhelming and that this had consequences in strained relationships. 

The overriding recommendation in the Report is that NZNO invest in an internal reconciliation and and dialogue process with the objective of restoring respect, communication and cooperation. 

“It’s an absolute tragedy that the NZNO Board has failed to heed this advice and has instead done the opposite”, said Grant Brookes. “With preparations already under way for DHB bargaining next year, NZNO members need leaders they can trust to implement the Report’s recommendations.”

“Meanwhile, every day that the Board’s process continues, more damage is done to NZNO and to the image of our nursing profession. It’s time to call a halt.”

The President’s application for an injunction against his removal from office will now proceed. A preliminary hearing will take place in the Employment Relations Authority at 50 Customhouse Quay in Wellington at 9.30am on Thursday, 29 August.

The hearing is open to the public. Donations are still being accepted through Givealittle for Grant Brookes’ legal defence fund.


Update 5.30pm: My lawyer has advised that new information which has come to light necessitates the postponement of the hearing before the Employment Relations Authority which was set down for Thursday.

Update, 3 September: Today, an updated Statement of Problem was filed in the Employment Relations Authority seeking a compliance order against the NZNO Board. The compliance order could compel the Board to abide by the NZNO Constitution, and invalidate the actions they have taken in breach of the Constitution. The ERA has granted urgency, although a date has not yet been set for a hearing.

Update, 29 November: The new NZNO Board has agreed to a proposal for the withdrawal of the legal proceedings, on the basis that all outstanding matters are at an end, and this has now been done.

Injunction application filed by Nurses Organisation President

Media Release

22 August 2019

An application was filed in the Employment Relations Authority in Wellington today, seeking an injunction to prevent the Board of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation from removing the President from office. 

The application has been made under Section 161(k) of the Employment Relations Act 2000, on the basis that the Board of Directors has failed to comply with the union’s rules. It was submitted on behalf of two NZNO members, Ruth Whittle and President Grant Brookes.

“I have recent personal experience of how deeply flawed NZNO’s complaints process is”, says Ruth. “Having reviewed the available evidence, I believe the NZNO Board’s motion to remove Grant Brookes from office clearly breached the rules of NZNO.” 

The attempted removal of the President has surprised and angered many, given that NZNO members are currently voting to elect a new Board. 

“The process which the outgoing Board has used in a last minute bid to remove me from office, just one day before their term expires, is unconstitutional, fundamentally unfair and an appalling abuse of power”, says Grant. 

“But over the past week we’ve also seen thousands of NZNO members mobilise together in a multitude of ways for the type of organisation they want to belong to. I’d like to thank in particular each and every person who has donated through Givealitte to my legal defence fund. 

“With this passion, energy and commitment, I know we can renew NZNO. We can be once more an organisation which is focused on the needs of its members and the health of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

“Meanwhile every day that the Board’s process continues, more damage is done to NZNO and to the image of our nursing profession. It’s time to call a halt.”

The President comments: ‘Our Pacific nursing voices on the world stage’

THOUSANDS OF nurses from all over the world converged in Singapore for four days last month, for the biennial Congress of the Interna­tional Council of Nurses (ICN). (See also p2, 12 and 13). 

Chief executive Memo Musa, kaiwhaka­haere Kerri Nuku and I, however, were among about 225 nursing leaders from 85 countries who arrived in Singapore early. Our job was to represent NZNO at the three-day pre-meeting of ICN’s govern­ing body, the Council of National Nursing Association Representatives (CNR). 

NZNO delegation to ICN CNR. Pictured (l-r) Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, President Grant Brookes and Chief Executive Memo Musa.

From its headquarters in Geneva, ICN represents more than 20 million nurses on the world stage, including at the United Nations and in other influential global institutions. Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank were among the observers at the CNR meeting. 

NZNO has been part of ICN since 1912. By joining NZNO, each member automati­cally becomes a member of ICN, as well. 

In Singapore, Kerri and I were proud to receive ICN’s Gold Award for Membership Inclusiveness – international recognition that over 76 percent of the nurses in our country belong to NZNO. 

ICN Awards Ceremony. Pictured (l-r) NZNO President Grant Brookes, ICN President Annette Kennedy, NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, ICN Board member Wu Ying.

Heading into the CNR meeting, our focus had been on two proposals which would strengthen the governance of ICN and increase its relevance to nurses in the South Pacific. 

The first of the CNR proposals on our radar was an amendment to the ICN constitution to clarify the function of the audit and risk committee (ARC), to increase ICN’s transparency and account­ability. The ARC was first established, with NZNO’s backing, at the last CNR meeting in 2017. Nuku was selected to serve on it. 

CNR delegates also voted to change the way seats on the ICN board are al­located, confirming a decision made at the last CNR meeting

Delegates in Singapore voted in favour of the constitutional change. This means, among other things, the ARC will now re­port on ICN’s finances each year to NZNO and all the other NNAs who fund it. 

Unfairly marginalised

NZNO had persuaded delegates in 2017 that the voice of South Pacific nurses had been unfairly marginalised at ICN board level. We successfully moved a motion to create a Pacific and Eastern Asia sub-region of the Geneva-based organisation. 

The vote in Singapore means there will now be a seat reserved for a board member from our region at the next election of the ICN board in 2021.

CNR meetings offer unparalleled oppor­tunities to foster cooperation between nurses from around the world. We held bilateral meetings in Singapore with leaders of the Chinese Nursing Associa­tion and American Nurses Association. We articulated our NZNO values and perspectives, as world events bring nurses in our respective countries closer together. 

NZNO meeting with the Chinese Nursing Association.

The Canadian Nurses Association requested a meeting to discuss NZNO’s bicultural model, as it strives to respond meaningfully to the report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on harm inflicted on its indigenous peoples. 

The CNR ended with a joint session with Nursing Now, the three-year global campaign to improve health by raising the status and profile of nursing. The WHO, in partnership with Nursing Now, has declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku discussing Nursing Now at ICN CNR.

Our input into the discussions about Nursing Now and 2020 was to raise the profile of indigenous nursing leaders who have made significant contributions to the profession and health care. This will also guide NZNO’s approach to next year’s celebrations, in collaboration with our national nursing partners.

First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, July 2019. Re-posted with permission. Photos courtesy of Eseta Finau.

‘How we got to where we are’ – Speech to NZNO Canterbury/Waitaha & West Coast/Tai Poutini Regional Convention

Notes of a presentation to NZNO Canterbury/Waitaha & West Coast/Tai Poutini Regional Convention on 28 May, as part of a leadership session alongside NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku and Chief Executive Memo Musa.

Photo courtesy of Jacqui Bennetts.

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā rau rangatira mā, tēnā koutou. 

To the authorities, the voices and the many leaders, greetings. I acknowledge in particular the fellow members of the NZNO Leadership Team, Chief Executive Memo Musa and Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku. Thanks to Regional Council Chair, Cheryl Hanham, and Te Rūnanga rep Ruth Te Rangi for the invitation to be here today. To the staff and all the nursing leaders in the whare (which is everyone here), greetings to you. 

Who am I? Ko wai ahau?

Ko Kapukataumahaka te maunga, ko Ōwheo te awa, ko Cornwall te waka.

Ko Don rāua ko Helen ōku mātua, ko Tangata Tiriti tōku iwi, ko Grant Brookes tōku ingoa.

Kua maumahara ahau ki tēnei whakataukī i tēnei rā: “He ora te whakapiri, he mate te whakatakariri”. 

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. 

I hail from Dunedin. I grew up at the foot of Mt Cargill and by the Water of Leith. My ancestors arrived in Dunedin on board the ship Cornwall in 1849. The son of Don and Helen, my name is Grant Brookes.

As we gather today, I recalled the whakataukī: “He ora te whakapiri, he mate te whakatakariri”. “There is strength in unity, defeat in anger and division”. 

So greetings, one and all. 


It’s always good to be back here on the Mainland, on Te Waipounamu. I called this city home for a time, when I moved north from Dunedin and took my first job after leaving school. That was some time ago now, back in the mid-1980s, a while before I discovered my true passion in nursing.

But I cannot stand here today without acknowledging the tragedies which have befallen this beautiful place in the years since, and the resilience of its people. 51 lives, on 15 March. And you, “heartbroken but not broken”. 

This is the ninth and final NZNO Regional Convention for me this year. 

In the eight previous conventions, I’ve been asked to address a variety of topics – each under the general theme for this year: “Nurses A Voice to Lead – Health For All”. 

Today, I think the three of us have been given ten minutes each, with ten minutes at the end for questions. I’d like to use this short time to give some reflections on our past year, and what this means for NZNO going forward. 

From my perspective, one thing has overshadowed all else in the time since we last met. It’s not to downplay development across our incredibly broad sector, but if there’s one thing that dominated, for me it’s the bargaining in the DHB Sector, and its aftermath. 

When I last stood before you at this venue one year ago, our momentous #HealthNeedsNursing rallies had just wrapped up. 

Some of you will remember coming together that day in April in Hagley Park South, over the road from the hospital. Others, I’m sure, turned out on Mairehau Road, at Burwood Hospital, or at the corner of Lincoln and Annex Roads, outside Hillmorton. There were rallies too at Caroline Bay, by the Z station, and at the Ashburton Checkerboard.  

For my part, I remember leafleting morning commuters at Wellington Railway Station, and demonstrating with my fellow members outside Wellington Hospital in Newtown. 

Those rallies, it turned out, were just the beginning. 

The effects of nine years of underfunding, which we highlighted and rallied against during 2017, finally compelled us to take unprecedented industrial action. 

For just the second time, nurses in New Zealand’s public health system took nationwide industrial action, alongside midwives and health care assistants covered by the DHB MECA.

For me personally, the hours I spent picketing and marching with my fellow NZNO members on 12 July 2018 will stand as the proudest moments of my nursing career. 

The MECA bargaining sparked a campaign of extraordinary drive and determination, on the part of NZNO members and staff alike. Together, we achieved momentous things. 

At the beginning, as you’ll recall, most members were being offered three pay increases of 2%, over 33 months, and a lump sum of $350 (pro rata).

After the #HealthNeedsNursing rallies in April and the #HearOurVoices marches in May, the offer was almost twice as big. The lump sum was bumped up to $2,000. Pay rises ranged from 9.3% to 15.9% over 26 months. An extra $38 million was pledged by the Government to employ 500 more nurses and $10 million allocated for additional expert nursing staff to support implementation of CCDM. 

At the end of July, after two more votes to reject, health minister David Clark put his signature to a new Accord, strengthening commitments to make sure there are enough nurses and midwives in our public hospitals to guarantee safety for staff and patients. 

The journey was not easy. We didn’t win everything needed to rebuild our public health system. But every single one of these advances was powered by the unity and determination of thousands of NZNO members, who should be enormously proud of themselves. 

At the same time, however, there are some unresolved problems. As we faced difficult decisions in the MECA bargaining last year, differences emerged between members, and between members and their representatives. At times there were signs of strife, of the “anger and division” which our whakataukī warns about. 

From my vantage point, I’m sorry to say, it appears that these divisions haven’t all healed yet. 

As many of you will know, we are in the middle of an independent review of last year’s DHB MECA. This is being conducted by former CTU President Ross Wilson. He has sought the views from all sides of the debates. I expect that his final draft report, which is due in June, will bring together these different perspectives, showing the truth in each and our shared path ahead. 

At the same time, the DHB MECA campaign set the pattern for a renewal of NZNO as an organisation which is united, open and responsive to members. 

Members last year made the big decisions through democratic votes. We were able to vote online for the first time. This saw the greatest member participation in any decisions in NZNO’s history. 

Campaign and LPS planning took place through cooperation between NZNO staff and member leaders, from local workplace delegates to the nationally elected board. Actions were designed to maximise member participation.

It’s democracy and participation like this that has the power to forge unity, out of division. A democratic vote can resolve many individual differences into one collective union decision. As we continue the democratic process of overcoming differences, strength will grow; “he ora te whakapiri”. 

Looking ahead, I can see three major opportunities this year for members to participate in the democratic process and shape NZNO’s evolution. 

First up, 2019 is an election year for NZNO. In August, members will be able to vote for up to seven directors who will lead NZNO over the next three years. 

Secondly, under the new “one member, one vote” system, all members will have a say – for the first time – on remits. Remits are statements proposing changes to NZNO policy or to our Constitution, which outlines such things as the rights and responsibilities of members and who in NZNO has the power to do what. As we heard first thing this morning, voting on these proposed changes takes place in August, too. The results will be announced at the NZNO AGM in September. 

Thirdly, the NZNO Board is leading a review of our current five-year strategic plan, which expires next year. Consultation on a new NZNO Strategic Plan 2020-2025, which will set the organisation’s key priorities and actions for the next five years, happens in late 2019 and early 2020. Once members have given input, a final draft will be presented for delegates to vote on at next year’s NZNO AGM. 

It’s possible there will be other big democratic decisions this year, as well. The current issue of Kai Tiaki reports on a petition for a Special General Meeting of NZNO, to vote on a particular motion. If it’s signed by one percent of members, then an SGM will be held. 

While this is still uncertain, it is important for members to know that despite the bits and pieces you may have heard, from various sources, the current Leadership Team you see before you are willing and able to lead the organisation, in a spirit of partnership and cooperation. 

It’s also important to stress finally that healthy democracy is more than simply majority rule. 

Our professionalism reminds us to work respectfully with colleagues, who may be in the minority. It says so in our Code of Conduct from the Nursing Council. Our professionalism reminds a majority that others have a right to hold different opinions – and to remain collaborative towards them at all times. 

In conclusion, only once before in New Zealand – back in 1989 – have nurses taken nationwide industrial action. That mobilisation reshaped nursing and four years later, in 1993, led to the birth of NZNO. 

The winds of change blowing this last year will also be felt beyond the DHBs. 

The surge which has drawn unprecedented numbers members into action is bound to power the ongoing transformation of NZNO. 

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa. 

‘The mana of our people’ – Speech to NZNO Top of the South Regional Convention

Notes of a presentation to NZNO Top of the South Regional Convention on 16 May, as part of a leadership session alongside NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, Manager, Nursing & Professional Services Mairi Lucas and Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne.

Ko Ranginui kei runga, ko Papatūānuku kei raro, ko ngā tāngata kei waenganui – Tīhei mauri ora! 

Ranginui is above, Papatūānuku below, and we the people are in between. 

Ko te kupu tuatahi ka tuku ki te Kaihanga. Koia rā te timatanga me te whakamutunga o ngā mea katoa. Kei te mihi anō ki a Maungatapu, ki a Maitahi hoki. 

The first word is to the Creator, the beginning and end of all things. I also greet the great mountain Maungatapu and the River Maitahi (or Maitai), who define this place. 

E ngā mate, haere, haere, haere. Rātou te hunga mate ki a rātou. Tātou te hunga ora e huihui mai nei, tēnā tātou.

I greet those who have passed on, and the living gathered here. 

E te tiamana, ko Joan, tēnā koe. Ngā whakawhetai ki a koe mō tāu pōwhiri ki a ahau. E ngā rangatira, Kerri, Cee koutou ko Mairi, tēnā koutou. E ngā kaimahi, me ngā kaiārahi nēhi e huihui nei, tēnā koutou.

To the Regional Council Chair, Joan, thank you for your invitation. To the rangatira – Kerri, Cee and Mairi – to the staff and all the nursing leaders gathered here (which is all of you), greetings. 

Who am I? Ko wai ahau?

Ko Kapukataumahaka te maunga, ko Ōwheo te awa, ko Cornwall te waka. Ko Don rāua ko Helen ōku mātua, ko Tangata Tiriti tōku iwi, ko Grant Brookes tōku ingoa.

Kua maumahara ahau ki tēnei whakataukī i tēnei rā: “Kaua e takahia te mana o te tangata”. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. 

I hail from Dunedin. I grew up at the foot of Mt Cargill and by the Water of Leith. My ancestors arrived in Dunedin on board the ship Cornwall in 1849. The son of Don and Helen, my name is Grant Brookes.

As we gather today, I recalled the whakataukī: “Kaua e takahia te mana o te tangata”. “Do not trample on the mana of the people” – or translated simply, “don’t humiliate anyone”. This is so fundamental to who we are as NZNO that it’s enshrined in the NZNO Constitution as a statement of our Philosophy. So greetings, one and all. 

It’s great to be here in Whakatū/Nelson today, with my feet back on the Mainland I come from, and on the day before Pink Shirt Day. As you can see, I’m dressed for the occasion. 

Celebrated annually around the globe, Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 when two students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, took a stand against homophobic bullying after a new year 10 student was harassed and threatened for wearing pink. 

My older child Tama is a year 10 student this year. He’s in the LGBTQI+ club at his high school, and he wears pink. I’m wearing this shirt partly for him. 

But many of us here, I know, have experienced bullying from people in positions of power. Perhaps some of us are facing that situation in our working lives right now. 

Bullying takes a terrible toll – not only on us as nurses, midwives and healthcare workers but also indirectly on those we care for, because we can’t give of ourselves fully when we’re anxious, stressed and worried. 

In recognition of this, one of the other NZNO Regional Conventions last month featured a session on bullying from NZNO Organiser Deb Chappell that was profoundly insightful and very practical. A few of you may have seen it at the 2018 NZNO AGM and Conference in Wellington. I first came across Deb’s presentation at the Greater Auckland Regional Convention last year. 

Some of Deb’s points have stuck in my mind. 

Bullies, she said, thrive on secrecy. They work by isolating us from our support networks. They make sure nobody else knows what’s going on. They say to us, we’ll only make it worse for ourselves if we tell. 

But as a fellow survivor of bullying, I am here with you. I’m here to tell you that I believe in the message of Pink Shirt Day 2019: “Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora”. If we speak up and stand together, we can stop the bullying. And as soon as we start to do that, the weight lifts and suddenly it can become all so unexpectedly easy. 

This is the eighth NZNO Regional Convention for me so far this year. 

In the seven previous conventions, I’ve been asked to address a variety of topics – each under the general theme for this year: “Nurses A Voice to Lead – Health For All”. 

Today, I’ve been asked to speak for ten to 15 minutes. I’d like to use the rest of that short time to give some personal reflections on our past year, and what this means for NZNO and for our people going forward. 

From my perspective, one thing has overshadowed all else in the twelve months since we last met. It’s not to downplay development across our incredibly broad sector, but if there’s one thing that dominated, for me it’s the bargaining in the DHB Sector, and its aftermath. 

When I stood before you at this Regional Convention, a year and one day ago, it was at a different venue – the Tahuna Function Centre, looking out to the beautiful Tasman Bay/Te Tai-o-Aorere. Our momentous #HealthNeedsNursing rallies, held in the month of April 2018, had just come to an end. 

Some of you will remember coming together here in Nelson, on Waimea Road. Others, I’m sure, took to the streets outside Wairau Hospital. 

For my part, I remember leafleting morning commuters at Wellington Railway Station, and demonstrating with my fellow members outside Wellington Hospital in Newtown. 

Those rallies, it turned out, were just the beginning. 

The effects of nine years of underfunding, which we highlighted and rallied against during 2017, finally compelled us to take unprecedented industrial action. For just the second time, nurses in New Zealand’s public health system took nationwide industrial action, alongside midwives and health care assistants covered by the DHB MECA.

For me personally, the hours I spent picketing and marching with my fellow NZNO members on 12 July 2018 will stand as the proudest moments of my nursing career. 

The MECA bargaining sparked a campaign of extraordinary drive and determination, on the part of NZNO members and staff alike. Together, we achieved momentous things. 

At the beginning, as you’ll recall, most members were being offered three pay increases of 2%, over 33 months, and a lump sum of $350 (pro rata).

When we rejected that offer, the lump sum was increased to $1,050. 

After the #HealthNeedsNursing rallies in April and the #HearOurVoices marches in May, the third offer was almost twice as big. The lump sum was bumped up to $2,000. Pay rises ranged from 9.3% to 15.9% over 26 months. An extra $38 million was pledged by the Government to employ 500 more nurses and $10 million allocated for additional expert nursing staff to support implementation of CCDM. 

At the end of July, after two more votes to reject, health minister David Clark put his signature to a new Accord, strengthening commitments to make sure there are enough nurses and midwives in our public hospitals to guarantee safety for staff and patients. 

The journey was not easy. We didn’t win everything needed to rebuild our public health system. But every single one of these advances was powered by the unity and determination of thousands of NZNO members, who should be enormously proud of themselves. 

Then as Summer arrived, there were signs that the long, cold winter for nursing and for the people we care for was coming to an end. 

It will take more struggle yet to clear away all the dark clouds over the DHBs – not to mention the deeper chill still lying across the rest of the sector. But the first of the extra nursing and midwifery staff were being appointed. By the end of Summer in March, just over half of the 500 were in place. Rates of new graduate employment through the ACE Nursing scheme hit record highs. 

At the same time, however, there are some unresolved problems. As we faced difficult decisions in the MECA bargaining last year, differences emerged between members, and between members and their representatives. At times there were signs of division, and the inherent mana of people was trampled upon. 

From my vantage point, I’m sorry to say, it appears that these divisions haven’t all healed yet. 

As many of you will know, we are in the middle of an independent review of last year’s DHB MECA. This is being conducted by former CTU President Ross Wilson. He has sought the views from all sides of the debates. I expect that his final draft report, which is due in June, will bring together these different perspectives, showing the truth in each and our shared path ahead. 

At the same time, the DHB MECA campaign set the pattern for a renewal of NZNO as an organisation which is united, open and responsive to members. 

Members last year made the big decisions through democratic votes. We were able to vote online for the first time. This saw the greatest member participation in any decisions in NZNO’s history. 

Campaign and LPS planning took place through cooperation between NZNO staff and member leaders, from local workplace delegates to the nationally elected board. Actions were designed to maximise member participation.

It’s democracy and participation like this that has the power to forge unity, out of division. A democratic vote can resolve many individual differences into one collective union decision. As we continue the democratic process of overcoming differences, strength will grow. The mana of each person and of the group as a whole will be enhanced. 

Looking ahead, there are three major opportunities this year for members to participate in the democratic process and shape NZNO’s evolution. 

First up, 2019 is an election year for NZNO. In August, members will be able to vote for up to seven directors who will lead NZNO over the next three years. 

Secondly, under the new “one member, one vote” system, all members will have a say – for the first time – on remits. Remits are statements proposing changes to NZNO policy or to our Constitution, which outlines such things as the rights and responsibilities of members and who in NZNO has the power to do what. Voting on these proposed changes takes place in August, too. The results will be announced at the NZNO AGM in September. 

Finally, the NZNO Board is leading a review of our current five-year strategic plan, which expires next year. Consultation on a new NZNO Strategic Plan 2020-2025, which will set the organisation’s key priorities and actions for the next five years, happens in late 2019 and early 2020. Once members have given input, a final draft will be presented for delegates to vote on at next year’s NZNO AGM. 

But healthy democracy is more than simply majority rule. 

Our professionalism reminds us to work respectfully with colleagues, who may be in the minority. It says so in our Code of Conduct, from the Nursing Council. Our professionalism reminds a majority that others have a right to hold different opinions – and to remain collaborative towards them. This is also, I believe, the meaning of our whakataukī. Respect the inherent mana of every person. 

In conclusion, only once before in New Zealand – back in 1989 – have nurses taken nationwide industrial action. That mobilisation reshaped nursing and four years later, in 1993, led to the birth of NZNO. 

The winds of change blowing this last year will also be felt beyond the DHBs. 

The surge which has drawn unprecedented numbers members into action is bound to power the ongoing transformation of NZNO. 

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa. 

Stop bullying! A blog for Pink Shirt Day 2019

Today I was in Nelson/Whakatū, for the NZNO Top of the South Regional Convention. It was great to be back, with my feet on the Mainland where I come from, on the day before Pink Shirt Day. As you can see, I was dressed for the occasion. 

Celebrated annually around the globe, Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 when two students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, took a stand against homophobic bullying after a new Year 10 student was harassed and threatened for wearing pink. Pink Shirt Day aims to create schools, workplaces and communities where all people feel safe, valued and respected.

My older child Tama is a Year 10 student this year. He’s in the LGBTQI+ club at his high school, and he wears pink. I’m wearing this shirt partly for him. He says it’s ok to tell you this. 

But many of us at the NZNO Convention and elsewhere in health, I know, have experienced bullying from people in positions of power. 

Perhaps some are facing that situation in our working lives right now. 

Bullying takes a terrible toll – not only on us as nurses, midwives and healthcare workers but also indirectly on those we care for, because we can’t give of ourselves fully when we’re anxious, stressed and worried. 

In recognition of this, one of the other NZNO Regional Conventions in Palmerston North last month featured a session on bullying, from NZNO Organiser Deb Chappell. It was profoundly insightful and very practical. A few of you may have seen Deb’s presentation at the 2018 NZNO AGM and Conference in Wellington. I first came across it at the Greater Auckland Regional Convention last year. 

Some of Deb’s points have stuck in my mind. 

Bullies, she said, thrive on secrecy. They work by isolating us from our support networks. They make sure nobody else knows what’s going on. They say to us, we’ll only make it worse for ourselves if we tell. 

But as a fellow survivor of bullying, I’m here to tell you that I believe in the message of Pink Shirt Day 2019: “Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora”. 

If we speak up and stand together, we can stop the bullying. And as soon as we do that, suddenly the weight starts to lift and it can become so unexpectedly easy. 

There’s advice on what to do about bullying from NZNO, and on the Pink Shirt Day website

If you believe you’re being bullied, as NZNO members you can reach out for help by calling the Member Support Centre on 0800 28 38 48. 

You are not alone. We’re in this together, and we will overcome.