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Severe staff and skill shortages within the health systems of developed countries have contributed to increased migration by health professionals. New Zealand stands out among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in terms of the high level of movements in and out of the country of skilled professionals, including nurses. In New Zealand, much attention has been given to increasing the number of Māori and Pacific nurses as one mechanism for improving Māori and Pacific health. Against a backdrop of the changing characteristics of the New Zealand nursing workforce, this study demonstrates that the globalisation of the nursing workforce is increasing at a faster rate than its localisation (as measured by the growth of the Māori and New Zealand-born Pacific workforces in New Zealand). This challenges the implementation of culturally appropriate nursing programmes based on the matching of nurse and client ethnicities.