Members encouraged to have say on NZNO’s future

June 30, 2023

NZNO members are being urged to give feedback on the future of the organisation, it’s structures and governance as part of a wide-ranging review which many hope will result in a re-write of the constitution.

President Anne Daniels said the constitution had become unwieldy, impossible to use and no longer reflected the organisation, its values and aspirations.


NZNO president Anne Daniels said the kōrero underway about the future shape of the organisation was “huge” and she hoped members would give their feedback.

“We need to have an organisation that is fit for purpose and serves the needs of our members and it hasn’t done that for a long time.”


Members’ views will contribute to the development of key concepts for a new constitution, to be drafted and voted on at the 2024 Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Views are sought on any or all of the following: the current constitution’s wording on NZNO’s vision, mission, philosophy, objects (or goals) and powers; and five key functions of the organisation – accountability, shared identity, avenues to participation, leadership at all levels and NZNO structures.

The closing date for feedback is July 7.


Members have been encouraged to consider whether the current structures adequately reflect te Tiriti o Waitiangi principles, including tino rangatiratanga (self-determination), are democratic, and support the aims of Maranga Mai!

Constitutions describe how an organisation functions, it’s structures (representative groups), powers and processes.

As an incorporated society the union is required to have a constitution under law. But the current document has had 18 amendments since it was adopted in 2011, creating confusion, repetition and inconsistencies.

“So, it’s not just thrown in there, we want [te Tiriti] built into it, so it’s actually actualised, realised, reclaimed.”

A review panel was established by the Tāpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa – NZNO board and te Poari to lead the process following last year’s AGM.

The panel includes Te Poari regional representatives: Tracy Black (Chair), Kathryn Chapman and Nayda Heays; NZNO board members: Simon Auty, Grant Brookes and Nano Tunnicliff; and independent member and former Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson.

Why are we doing this?

Te Poari representative for Bay of Plenty – Tairāwhiti, and the review panel Tracy Black said the review came in response to a despire by members to make changes.

Te Poari representative for Bay of Plenty – Tairāwhiti, constitution review panel chair Tracy Black.

“The members asked for it, that’s why we’re doing it. This was actually led by the members – starting with a remit asking for a constitution review.”

In 2020, the Mental Health Nurses Section and the Cancer Nurses College called for an independent review of the constitution in a remit, which was endorsed by a member vote at the 2020 AGM.

Mental Health Nurses Section chair Helen Garrick said the groups’ were upset about NZNO leadership discord in 2019/20 which saw two special general meetings held over the leadership of then president Grant Brookes, who later resigned.

Mental Health Nurses Section chair Helen Garrick.

” . . . [the remit] was designed to improve NZNO’s overall organisation, to ensure that we didn’t have that level of very public discord again.”

The groups want all representative voting by member groups such as regional councils replaced by “one member, one vote” for all election processes.

In response to the remit, legal firm Morrison and Kent were contracted to conduct a review of the constitition.

The review included a survey of over 5000 members, and interviews with board members, the groups who submitted the remit, the kaiwhakahaere, the president, te Poari and the NZNO legal team.

The firm concluded the constitution document:

  • did not adequately reflect a bi-cultural organisation as described in the NZNO mission
  • did not reflect changes to modern voting processes
  • had become inconsistent and confusing over time

The terms of reference for the Morrison Kent review did not include wider assessment and recommendations for structural, organisational or governance issues.

Former CTU president and WorkSafe chair Ross Wilson is an independent member of the constitution review panel.

They recommended changes to the constitution, to better reflect te Tiriti provisions, address inconsistencies, lack of clarity, and duplication of processes, as the first step in a multi-stage process of change.

Next, Morrison Kent suggested the board make a decision on whether to undergo a larger review of the organisational structure itself. If this went ahead, the constitution would then be updated to reflect any changes.

Daniels said the board asked former CTU president and WorkSafe chair Ross Wilson to assess the Morrison Kent review, and advise on next steps.

Wilson said the process underway aimed to engage members in the discussion about what NZNO should look like in the future to provide the best possible representation and participation.

Black said Te Rūnanga members wanted to see a constitution and organisation that was built on te Tiriti.

“So, it’s not just thrown in there, we want [te Tiriti] built into it, so it’s actually actualised, realised, reclaimed.”