Nurses nationwide have began their 24-hour strike (start time 7am) after the latest pay offer from District Health Boards (DHB) was rejected.
"We are advocating for the value of the nursing and midwifery professions, and for equality and safe public health systems," Cee Payne of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) said.
"We know that's important for everyone in New Zealand."
"We do want to see a resolution to this dispute ... It is one that requires additional funding."
Chair of the NZNO's mental health section Helen Garrick recently commented on how a decade of underfunding, growing demand and increasingly complex needs has led the mental health nursing workforce to "breaking point".
From an earlier survey of members, NZNO found that high caseloads, low staffing levels, inadequate community and inpatient services and insufficient inpatient beds were amongst the main concerns of their nurses.
"Over 71 per cent of survey respondents report feeling unsafe at work," Ms Garrick said.
Ms Garrick said the overall working environment needs "to be better suited to modern-day needs and believe this will make the environment safer for all".
DHB spokesperson Helen Mason says DHBs were disappointed the nurses had decided to reject the offer.
"We respect nurses' right to strike in support of their claims, we also need to recognise that negotiation involves a degree of compromise."
She said DHB's main concern is now to ensure the safety of patients and staff during the strike.
"Nurses are highly skilled professionals and those skills cannot be easily replaced. DHBs and nurses have an obligation to provide emergency and essential services, although we will be under pressure to provide the same care in the same way."
Payne claims nurses are still open to further talks with the DHB, "to resolve the negotiation impasse and to achieve an offer that is acceptable" for their members.
"Patient safety and public safety is paramount."
While the strike is taking place, she reminds the public that "life preserving services and contingency plans will be in place across the twenty district health boards".