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Māori nurses claim on pay disparity gets Tribunal hearing

The New Zealand Nursing Organisation (NZNO) have lodged a Kaupapa Inquiry Claim into pay disparity of Māori nurses which will be heard by the Waitangi Tribunal in October.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerry Nuku says the crown has breached its obligations to Māori in the health system under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Kerri Nuku says it's a huge victory - Māori nurses will finally have their say.

“Absolutely over the moon,” she said.

“It's about time that the country got to hear the stories from Māori nurses. We're really, really, pleased that at least someone is starting to listen.”

Registered nurse Harakeke Winiata will give evidence at the inquiry. She says although she wants to work with her Iwi Health Providers, she can't.

“I'm actually more likely to work in a Pākehā organisation compared to a Māori organisation,” said Winiata.

“I can't afford to live on a wage from a Māori organisation compared to where I'm currently working.”

In 2011 the NZNO estimated a 25 percent pay gap between nurses employed by DHBs and Māori nurses working for Māori Iwi providers or the Primary Health sector.

“Prior to coming to DHB I worked in an Iwi Provider NGO called Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and I worked there for three years,” said Karen Winiata.

“And coming over to DHB the disparity in wages is significant. I get an extra, I would say $600 from an NGO to a DHB.”

Nuku says the funding models by the Ministry of Health that recognises and pays the Primary Health sector differently is the issue.

“What we want to do is have conversations with the Ministry of Health around how Māori models of care can be delivered in a different way,” said Nuku, “funded in a different way that sees the autonomy and funding sit within Māori Iwi Provider groups or other Primary Healthcare sectors to determine what's best for their communities.”

NZNO will discuss their concerns with the Minister of Health next week. The hearing will take place at Tūrangawaewae marae.