NZ English test for Pacific-trained nurses too tough?

March 28, 2022

My name is Italia. I am currently working as a health-care assistant in mental health.

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I am a registered nurse (RN) from Samoa. I am writing regarding international RNs who have experience and knowledge in the field, about reviewing some of the requirements for us such as doing the academic level IELTS [international English language testing system]. We have so many nurses from Samoa who are currently working as health-care assistants but have so much experience and knowledge to contribute in the field – especially at this time with such a shortage of staff.


This IELTS is the one barrier that is stopping us from getting a New Zealand registration, because of the academic level it requires. We kindly ask for help so we can get on the floor and help out our sisters and brothers who are working tirelessly because of the shortage they are facing right now.

Italia Tiffany Farani, RN (Samoa),

NZNO Pacific Nurses Section chair ‘Eseta Finau replies: Malo Italia. The NZNO Pacific Nurses Section (PNS) has been actively working with various agencies in New Zealand to address this issue. We have had consultation talks with the Nursing Council to look at pathways for registration and practice here in New Zealand for Pacific-trained nurses. We have also discussed the IELTS (international English language testing system) and OET (occupational English test) criteria and some work is being done to look at these requirements. Our recommendation is that nurses look at both options before deciding which test to take.

We have also consulted with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Whitireia Community Polytech to look at a bridging programme for our Pacific-trained nurses. Work is underway to develop a curriculum for this and PNS is consulting with Whitireia. We hope this will start next year, subject to curriculum development and endorsement by the regulatory authorities.

In addition the MOH recently released grants for a return-to-nursing support programme for non-practising nurses who reside in New Zealand. The PNS has been encouraging our Pacific-trained nurses who live in New Zealand to access this funding to assist them with their New Zealand nursing registration programme.