Sixty new nurses in seven months

Sixty locally and internationally trained nurses have swelled Gisborne Hospital’s nurse numbers to 400.

In 2023, Health New Zealand - Te Whatu Ora Tairāwhiti hired 105 full-time equivalents (FTEs) across the organisation. Over half of them (55 FTEs) are registered nurses.

Interim hospital lead Bhargav Srinivasan says over the past three years nursing shortages have been experienced in Gisborne Hospital as well as around the world. To alleviate the ongoing global and national health workforce shortage there have been both national and local initiatives to reduce vacancies.

“We’re strongly committed to retaining, developing, and growing our local workforce, and augmenting that work by recruiting from overseas.”

Many of the 60 new nurses arriving at Gisborne Hospital qualified in India or the Philippines. Some bring their highly trained professional partners with them, while others leave family back in their country of origin.

Mr Srinivasan says there’s always been diversity within Gisborne Hospital’s nursing staff, be it nationality, religion, or gender identity. “We’re so grateful to have this many new staff interested in working here and we value their input.”

Ward 5 nurse manager Louisa Fonoti says she’s humbled by the effort that internationally qualified nurses have made to work in Gisborne. “It costs a lot of money for them to cover the extra training, immigration costs, and flights.”

She says nurses on Ward 5 can often speak more than two languages, and they enjoy using their newly developed New Zealand English, te reo Māori, “and the Gisborne phrases we use”. “We’re thrilled to have them join us as we rebuild and recover from so many challenges these past few years.”

Gisborne Hospital clinical nurse specialist, flight coordination, Jacqui Johnson often welcomes new nurses at Gisborne Airport with care packages. Plants, toys for children, and food from their country of origin, makes its way into her gift packs.  “It’s my way of showing our new nurses that we’re grateful to them and thankful that they chose to join us here in Tairāwhiti.”

Before beginning work on the wards or in the community, internationally qualified nurses complete two online courses introducing them to culturally safe nursing practice in New Zealand. Depending on their years of experience, some must also pass a theoretical exam. Everyone then takes part in a two-day orientation programme and, finally, one more exam.


Clinical nurse coordinator Marifel Sandolo from the Philippines is passionate about helping internationally qualified nurses integrate into Gisborne life. Many new nurses don’t have cars and so she carpools them to their shifts. She’s hoping those nurses will pay it forward in the future.


Nurse Jeffy John, 26, qualified as a nurse in India. She arrived in Gisborne in July 2023 and loves exploring Gisborne by bike. Next on her list, surfing!

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