Constitution to undergo independent review

October 1, 2020

A full and independent review of the NZNO constitution will go ahead after all 10 constitutional and policy remits were passed at this year’s online annual general meeting (AGM), heralding a raft of changes within NZNO’s governance and management.

Overall, 3185 votes were received – 6.32 per cent of NZNO’s 50,418 eligible membership – chief executive Memo Musa told the AGM.


A non-nurse can now be employed as NZNO’s chief executive. While a nurse may still be the preferred option, the board should be able to draw on the “widest range of potential candidates”, according to its rationale. This was agreed to by 2096 to 832 votes received, a 66 per cent majority.


An independent professional director can be appointed to the NZNO board, to “provide expertise in specific areas that may be of benefit to the BOD (board of directors) and organisational functioning”. This was agreed by 77 per cent of voting members – 2464.

An independent evaluation of NZNO’s safe staffing strategies must also be carried out, including care capacity demand management (CCDM), with options for other approaches including nurse to patient ratios to be considered. Opinion had remained divided on the benefits of CCDM and with the agreed date for its full implementation approaching on June 30, 2021, it was “timely” to review its outcomes, according to the NZNO board rationale. This passed by 2738 votes to 148, an 87 per cent majority.

A joint policy remit from the mental health nurses’ section and college of cancer nurses for the constitution to be “independently reviewed in its entirety” by an external constitutional expert was accepted by 85 per cent of voting members – 2694 out of 3185 votes received. Any proposed changes would then be subject to the one-member-one-vote process at next year’s AGM.


The current constitution’s requirements had led to division within NZNO over the past year, the member groups said in their rationale. For example, two special general meetings (SGMs) over the former president were linked to the constitution. “We believe accountability will be better achieved by an external, independent review which identifies the obstacles to an effective organisation which may be embedded within a constitution.”

They wanted any recommended changes to “support the practice of leaders and members, to enhance the mana of our members and organisation. This requires an examination of how democratic processes for individual members can work within a bicultural partnership”.

It was essential any review was not “limited in its scope”, as had been proposed by the board. The reviewer should have strong knowledge of constitutional law and bicultural partnerships.

The board had developed its own terms of reference (TOR) for a constitutional review, excluding any changes which would alter the bicultural partnership (unless ratified by Te Rūnanga) and NZNO’s vision, mission and name.

However, as members had voted to accept the joint policy remit, the board’s TOR were superseded, chief executive Memo Musa advised members at the AGM. The board was responsible for implementing the review as per the joint policy remit.

Members also agreed to several constitutional amendments to ensure remits which compromised Te Rūnanga or its constitution Ngā Ture would not be subject to the one-member, one-vote process. This was agreed by 2314 to 572 votes, a 73 per cent majority.

In another change, board candidates, including president, vice-president, kaiwhakahaere and tumu whakarae, no longer need to be endorsed by their regional council, te poari or national college or section to stand. Instead, their involvement in NZNO activities must merely be confirmed. The intent was to encourage members to be active, rather than needing endorsement.

Musa told Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand the board would be discussing the planned constitutional review and other remit decisions at its next meeting, likely to be held late October or early November. Voting online during the AGM eventually went smoothly, after glitches were sorted out, Musa said.