The National Council of Māori nurses says some Māori nurses who work for Whānau Ora health providers are earning thousands of dollars less than their counterparts in district health boards.
The president of Te Kaunihera Neehi Māori o Aotearoa has joined other health professionals, including the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, in demanding equal pay for Māori nurses working in Whānau Ora agencies.
The president of the council, Hemaima Hughes, says there is an expectation that patients in Whānau Ora agencies will receive the same outcomes as those in district health boards, yet less money is provided for Māori nurses to achieve that.
Ms Hughes said she works part-time for a DHB, but if she was to do the same job for a Whānau Ora health provider she would be earning $18,000 less - and that sort of discrepancy in pay parity is a disincentive for Māori nurses.
"It's certainly not a fair system and I question how that pay disparity benefits Māori health and allows Whānau Ora agencies to employ the best people? The current lack of pay parity discourages Māori nurses from working for them.
"I agree with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation that Māori nurses can earn up to to 25 percent less if they work for Whānau Ora agencies. It's forcing Māori nurses to choose between helping their people and earning enough to survive."
Ms Hughes believed it should be a situation where they are incentivised to work for Whānau Ora providers.
"These nurses do need to be recognised and valued for their expertise, having completed their nursing degrees, and need to be treated equally to those working in the DHB sector. Some changes are starting to occur, but there can still be thousands of dollars difference in their pay packets.
"The iwi agencies are expected to deliver the same outcomes as if the patient was in a DHB, but with money for staff to do that and deliver the best possible service out in the community.
"Māori are fighting for the crumbs and working with the crumbs when it comes to funding. And yet Māori nurses have dual competencies as they can care for their own people while adhering to tikanga."
In a statement, the Ministry of Health said that any changes to pay and conditions for nurses working for Māori and iwi health providers should be achieved through usual negotiation channels.
It said pay rates for nurses working for Māori and iwi providers are dependent on negotiations between the nurses and the provider organisations.
The ministry said that Māori and iwi providers have a multi-employer collective agreement which has been negotiated with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation on behalf of its members.