The New Zealand Nurses Organisation says Maori nurses are choosing to work in district health boards over Whanau Ora health providers because of a lack of pay parity.
It says earning up to 25 percent less for those agencies has forced some Maori nurses to choose between helping their people and earning enough to survive.
Te Runanga o Aotearoa represents the Nurses Organisation's Maori members. Its Kaiwhakahaere, or manager, Kerri Nuku, says pay rates in Whanau Ora health services are proving a disincentive for Maori nurses.
Ms Nuku said the attraction of working with tangata whenua is being over-ridden by the need to make ends meet.
She said as vacancies come up at DHBs, Maori nurses are opting to work there for better pay, as their whanau's health and well-being is a priority. But what that means is there is not the same level of skills in the community.
In a statement, the Maori Party said it knows that pay parity is an issue for New Zealand nurses and it will be an issue the party will follow up on with the new Health Minister.
The Ministry of Health said any changes to pay and conditions for nurses working for Maori and iwi health providers should be achieved through usual negotiation channels.