Thu, Apr 20, 2023 7:00 PM
Two very different groups of protesters double-booked Seymour Square on Saturday.
About ten nurses and supporters attended a rally, organised by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), calling on the government to address the nursing crisis.
At the same time, around 11.30am, about 50 anti-trans protesters took to the steps of the war memorial for what they called, “women’s rights”.
NZNO bosses say New Zealand needs up to 5000 more nurses to alleviate poor conditions and chronic overwork.
One nurse at the protest, who asked to remain anonymous, says about two thirds of midwives are set to retire in the next 10 years.
“They [the government] need to pay nurses to train,” she says.
People who want to become nurses must pay to study and are required to complete placements at hospitals without any financial compensation.
“Why are nurses paying to be there [at hospital] – they're doing the work.”
She says New Zealand is losing young nurses to Australia.
“In some states [of Australia], they get accommodation subsidies, trips home paid for.
“Australia has all sorts of incentives.
“They have safe staffing rules, with a nurse-to-patient ratio. We don’t have that.”
She says in some states of Australia, there is a four-to-one patient to nurse ratio during the day, and eight-to-one at night.
"In New Zealand, I can have six patients and at night, 12. Running IV fluids, antibiotics, some need one-on-one care. It’s ridiculous.
“You literally do not stop all night long.”
Nurse Doug Clark says the issues with nursing have been the same for thirty or forty years.
"Underfunded, understaffed, and they’re [the government] always looking for quick fixes that never eventuate,” he says.
“We need to get to a place where nurses don’t have to take a student loan to be trained.”
NZNO has launched a petition calling on political parties to commit to fixing the nursing crisis.
Back at the memorial steps, protesters were holding signs saying, “protect women’s sex-based rights,” and “real men stand by real women”, one speaker, Link, who supplied the sound system for the event, says he was happy with the turn out.
Link asked to not have his last name printed; he says he wasn’t an organiser of the ‘Stand by your woman’ event – and the movement is pro-women.
“It’s an organic movement, we’re not anti-anything,” he says.
Statistics New Zealand stats show there are more than 19,000 transgender and non-binary adults over the age of 18 in New Zealand, with the majority, nearly 7000, living in Auckland.
Gender critical campaigners generally believe that trans women are not “real” women.
The Stand By Your Women mission statement, which was being handed out by protesters, says they “...stand to protect our women from the threat of biological men using women and girl’s safe spaces; entering women’s sports; claiming women’s rights; and to ensure women always have a voice.”
"It’s about standing up for and protecting women’s rights,” says Link.
Blenheim man Damian Bason says he was protesting because he didn’t want trans woman to use the women’s changing rooms.
“I’m here because I don’t want fully grown men using changing rooms in front of my wife or my daughters or granddaughters.
“If they want to identify as women, that’s their choice. It’s our choice whether we accept that.”
Link says they offered the sound system to the nursing rally-goers, but they declined.
The nursing protest moved across the road.