The first episode of Shortland Street began with two paramedics, Tom Neilson (Adrian Keeling) and Sam Aleni (Rene Naufahu) rushing a young pregnant teen to the Shortland Street Accident and Emergency Medical Centre. At the same time, Dr Hone Ropata (Temuera Morrison) arrived at Shortland Street fresh from a stint in Guatemala and carried out a breech delivery on the pregnant teen, rather than the recommended hospital transfer and caesarean section. Hone's unorthodox methods led him to clash with the other members of the staff, particularly Nurse Carrie Burton (Lisa Crittenden) and Dr Meredith Flemming (Stephanie Wilkin).
Tom and his wife Marj (Elizabeth McRae), a receptionist at Shortland Street were horrified when their son Stuart (Martin Henderson) claimed that he was the father of the baby that Hone had delivered. It was quickly revealed that Stuart's eldest brother Darryl (Mark Ferguson) was the real father. Darryl was married and Stuart had befriended his young pregnant mistress when they had broken up. Marj remained unaware that she had a grandchild, though Tom suspected the truth.
The romance of Dr. Chris Warner (Michael Galvin) and Nurse Alison Raynor (Danielle Cormack) was the first of many love stories that have been featured in Shortland Street over the years. Alison was an innocent country girl from Te Kuiti, Chris on the other hand, was a ladies' man and had garnered the nickname 'Dr Love' by fellow staff members. Chris had also been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, his father was Sir Bruce Warner (Ken Blackburn), a well respected doctor who had been knighted for his services to medicine. The romance between Chris and Alison quickly hit trouble Nurse Steve Mills (Andrew Binns) caught Chris engaged in a steamy romp with gym instructor Jill(Suzy Aiken).
Meanwhile, Shortland Street's first issue-based storyline occurred when Nurse Jaki Manu (Nancy Brunning) pricked herself with a needle that had been used on an HIV positive patient, Deborah (Lisa Chappell). The storyline hinted at the stigma of having the disease as Jaki initially hid her HIV scare from her friends and co-workers, and when they finally learned what was going on, Marj was openly hostile towards her, believing that Jaki was contagious. Jaki's other co-workers, having been trained as medical professionals, were more understanding. They set Marj (and by extension, the viewers) straight about how HIV was transmitted. After many months, Jaki was cleared of the disease.
Shortland Street quickly gained a reputation for being racy, and it quickly seemed to viewers that the character's favourite pastimes were sleeping with everyone else. For example, when Chris and Alison broke up following his fling with Jill, Chris ended up in bed with a stranger, only to find out that she was Claire, Hone's fiancee. Meredith and Hone, who had had a one night stand just prior to Claire's arrival, quickly decided to remain friends. Meredith's ten year old son Andrew soon turned up and Meredith quickly devoted herself to raising him while Hone had to the deal with the shenanigans of his wayward fiancee, who after sleeping with Chris began sleeping with clinic boss Michael McKenna! (Paul Gittins). Hone eventually dumped Claire after learning of her various affairs with his co workers.
Shortland Street sought to reflect the growing numbers of single parent families so Michael's secretary Jenny Harrison (Maggie Harper) was made a solo mother to her teenaged son Nick (Karl Burnett). Jenny's ex-husband Barry returned to town late in 1992 and Jenny reconciled with him. However viewers quickly discovered why Jenny had left Barry in the first place when Barry beat Jenny up. Jenny made the decision to kick him out and Jenny told Nick that the real reason why she and Barry had divorced was because Barry had regularly beat her when they were married. Nick and Jenny later fell out when Nick became inolved with a punk girl named Serena Hughes (Willa O'Neill).
When Carrie was accused of assisting one of Sam's cousins commit suicide, she was arrested and charged with the crime. Carrie turned to Michael for support and it was revealed that the two had had a prior relationship. Carrie was soon cleared when Sam uncovered the true culprit. Michael and Carrie's relationship didn't last and the two went back to just being friends.
Stuart quickly fell for Kirsty Knight (Angela Dotchin), who worked at the clinic as a recpetionist alongside Marj. However their relationship never really got off the ground. After a friend of Nick and Stuart's committed suicide, Stuart and Kirsty had a one night stand but Stuart, being a devout catholic, was horrified to have lost his virginity. He broke up with Kirsty and decided to become a priest.
Meanwhile Stuart and Darryl's parents, Tom and Marj faced several ups and downs. Tom, who was an ambulance driver, developed some sort of sleeping disorder and fell asleep at the wheel and later almost burnt the house down when the heater caught fire while he was asleep. Tom's health problems continued when he was injured in a building collapse.
Andrew continued to cause mischief, but Hone managed to establish a rapport with the boy. Meredith and Hone embarked on a relatiosnhip.
Kirsty was heartbroken after Stuart dumped her and developed a flirtation with Darryl, despite Stuart's warnings that Darryl would only use her and then throw her away. Kirsty refused to listen until one night when Darryl attempted to rape her. Kirsty pressed charges for Sexual Assault, but she was forced to drop the charges after Darryl's wife, Diane, lied to the police and provided an alibi for her wicked husband.
Marj was devastated when she realised that her eldest son Darryl had indeed attempted to rape Kirsty. After Darryl was banished from the family fold, Marj got in contact with her eldest daughter (Katherine McRae), whom she had given up for adoption shortly after birth. Tom was not pleased to learn that his wife had had another man's baby before they were married.
Sam Aleni and Nurse Steve Mills shared a house together and Alison also lived with them. Sam and Steve were Shortland Street's answer to the Odd couple, with Steve forever being caught up in numerous scams and womanising, while Sam was a more serious and devoutly Christian, who despite being in his early 20's was still a virgin as he didn't believe in sex before marriage. However the two got along well enough and soon became best friends and both were fiercly protective of Alison, supporting her as she was let down by Chris time and time again. Steve, after fending off the affections of Gina Rossi (Josephine Davidson) the manager of the local cafe, Stromboli, began going out with Sarah Donelly, and was devastated when she died of Melanoma.
Michael began drinking heavily and it was revealed that he had a drinking problem which he had battled with for many years. After a drink driving incident, Michael was forced to admit that he was an Alcoholic and sought treatment from Alcoholics Anonymous. Successfully overcoming his drinking problem for the time being, Michael began dating Kirsty's flatmate Julieanne.
Chris and Alison eventually reunited and got engaged. However, Chris soon broke up with Alison in order to return to his ex wife, Melanie. Alison later learned that she was pregnant with Chris' child.
 Cast Members  Original Cast Members Paul Gittins (Dr. Michael Mckenna) Michael Galvin (Dr. Chris Warner) Temuera Morrison (Dr. Hone Ropata) Stephanie Wilkin (Dr. Meredith Fleming) Lisa Crittenden (Nurse Carrie Burton) Nancy Brunning (Nurse Jaki Manu) Danielle Cormack (Nurse Alison Raynor) Andrew Binns (Nurse Steve Mills) Rene Naufahu (Sam Aleni) Maggie Harper (P.A. Jenny Harrison) Karl Burnett (Nick Harrison) Elizabeth McRae (Majorie Neilson) Adrian Keeling (Tom Neilson) Martin Henderson (Stuart Neilson) Angela Marie Dotchin (Kirsty Knight) Josephine Davidson (Gina Rossi)  Recurring Cast Members Ken Blackburn (Sir Bruce Warner) Mark Ferguson (Darryl Neilson) Glynis McNicoll (Lady Margot Warner) Tamati Rice (Henry Tamariki) Ezra Woods (Andrew Fleming)  Guest Stars Suzy Aiken (Jill) Craig Parker (Guy Warner) Katherine McRae (Marj's illegitimate daughter)