Maori nursing graduates say the struggle to get a job is forcing some to resort to stacking shelves at supermarkets.
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation's tauira (leader), Rebecca Le Noel, is speaking out about what she describes as a widespread problem for graduates. The third-year nursing student says they're being told there's a need for nurses, but once they graduate, the jobs aren't there.
Ms Le Noel believes students are being attracted into nursing through false advertising, and a lot of graduates wind up working in retail and food stores stacking shelves.
She says it's not right that new Maori nurses are struggling to find work they are trained to do when there is a need for more Maori in the sector.
A 2012 Health Workforce New Zealand report states the Maori workforce needs to triple by 2030 to manage an ageing and growing population.
Ms Le Noel says this should mean jobs for the few Maori nursing students - but that's not the case.
She says students are scared and left wondering why they were encouraged into nursing in the first place - and many don't want to go back into the health workforce because it's too hard to find work.