The Ministry of Health says it is working hard to find jobs for hundreds of newly qualified nurses struggling to find jobs.
Health Minister Tony Ryall told Parliament's health select committee on Wednesday that only 212 nurse graduates out of 515 got jobs in hospitals in the latest mid-year intake.
In December, he said just 57% secured jobs initially, rising to 74% in February this year.
The situation prompted the ministry to set up a database to help graduates find jobs with district health boards.
The ministry's chief nurse, Jane O'Malley, told MPs they are seeking to help match graduates' needs to positions in DHBs and elsewhere, including in aged care.
"We're looking to target those who absolutely want to go into aged care. We're working with Health Workforce New Zealand and the aged residential care facilities to identify those with capability and capacity to take in new graduates and provide them with a better supported first year of practice."
Dr O'Malley said more nurses would be needed in future as the population ages and the number being trained should not be reduced.
Tony Ryall said low vacancy and turnover rates are to blame in difficult economic times. He also told MPs the number of patients waiting for longer than six months for elective surgery and to see a specialist has been cut from 31,000 in 2005 to just 12 people today.