Book Review: Pay Packets and Stone Walls


Book Review: Pay Packets and Stone Walls

By Elizabeth Orr

At the beginning of her memoir Elizabeth Orr pledges to tell the truth about the fight for pay equity for women, her reasoning being that it has lessons for the future. 

Born in 1929, Elizabeth was a trade union leader, involved in the formation of the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women (NACEW), and in the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1972.  

Elizabeth Orr

Elizabeth Orr

Her memoir has fascinating details of the fight for equal pay, culminating in the Kristine Bartlett case, but it is not at all a dry retelling of that fight. It is a wonderful story of life in New Zealand, told in a gentle, authentic voice. 

I enjoyed the story she tells of discovering an unknown part of her own story when she realises one of the women in a photo of a PSA equal pay campaign committee circa 1943 is her aunt Oenone Greig.

Elizabeth has been a friend and colleague to many others within the PSA .The book is available from steeleroberts.co.nz

Nā Nanette Cormack

Also in this issue:


‘We thank you for your brave stand’

PSA members and local communities joined forces in February to protest restructuring that threatened hundreds of jobs and quality client care.

While the restructuring by HealthCare NZ is now set to go ahead the protests have thrown a spotlight on issues besetting the home care and support sector.

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“Remember the loss but also remember the hope”

As we mark the anniversary of the Christchurch attacks the PSA has added its voice to a call for peace from the city’s Muslim community.

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Leading the charge on contractor rights

Our union is leading the charge to strengthen rights for contractors and labour hire workers in public and community services.

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Make it Real

Thousands of admin workers in the Public Service are asking to be paid what they’re worth with the launch of their pay equity claim.

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Mana Wahine Claim goes to Waitangi

The Mana Wahine team was up before dawn on Waitangi Day erecting our stall at the famous Treaty Grounds.

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Opportunities and issues with new bill

We’ve been making our voices heard on the new Public Service Legislation Bill with submissions from the PSA, Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina, network and delegate committees and individual members.

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"We have come too far to not go further"

‘Tawhiti rawa i tō tatou haerenga atu te kore haere tonu’ - Sir James Henare

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We Count

The results of a survey of rainbow public servants suggest a significant proportion still don’t feel comfortable being out in their workplaces.

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The PSA’s greatest victory?

Former PSA staffer Noel O’Hare explains why he wrote Tooth & Veil, a history of school dental nurses and the day they stormed the corridors of power.

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Maranga Mai

A groundbreaking course is empowering Māori delegates and contributing to a surge in Māori membership across the PSA.

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Pacific organisers speak of challenges and triumphs

Union organisers from the Pacific have spoken about the challenges some face while trying to improve conditions for workers in their countries.

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Climate Talk

Nā Alex Johnston, Oxfam New Zealand campaigns coordinator and PSA EcoNetwork member

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Holiday Home Snaps

Thanks to all our members who entered our PSA Holiday Home Photo Competition over the summer.

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The Marlene Pitman Award

Nominations are now being sought for the Marlene Pitman award.

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Radio NZ

In early February, RNZ announced its new music strategy which included a proposal to axe over 18 of our members’ jobs and move the station to AM radio.

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New CTU Secretary Looks to the Future

The new CTU Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges was drawn to the union movement when a job as industrial officer and organiser at Equity New Zealand caught her attention.

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Leading the Way

PSA member Pam Maha had never been fully aware of family violence before she joined the Ministry of Justice twenty years ago.

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On the Job

As the first Pasefika person to become a mental health nurse practitioner, Makoni Havea is determined to make a difference for her community.

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Te Reo o te Tari

Why not try out some of these simple phrases in the workplace?

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President's Message March 2020

He waka eke noa – We are all in this together

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