Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters has told nurses to "give us a chance and we will help you" as strikes saw thousands of nurses and other healthcare workers around the country walk off the job for 24 hours.
The nurses are on strike after rejecting the DHB's latest offer, which saw a boost in the minimum pay increase nurses would receive from nine per cent to 12.5 per cent, but with delays in the time taken for the pay rises to take effect.
Mr Peters says the current Labour-led government "wasn't unsympathetic to the nurses' plight and to their concerns" but is unable to solve the country's issues "all in one budget".
"We were required within a matter of months of becoming the government - and before our first budget - to deal with the demands that had been backlogged for exactly 13 years," Mr Peters told reporters.
The Acting Prime Minister added that the nurses "had to be realistic".
"All we're saying to them is, 'Give us a chance and we will help you, but we can't do it all in one budget."