The outgoing Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell has said she is tough, direct and frank - but not a bully.

Maxwell is finishing up the role at the end of this month after two terms.

The Commissioner had spent the past six months on leave, while an investigation was underway into allegations of bullying.

The investigation came at the request of Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi after two written complaints, in late 2018, were made from two unnamed individuals alleging bullying behaviour by Maxwell.

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The Government watchdog cleared her of any accusations of bullying in May.

Maxwell told the Mike Hosking Breakfast show she had a "really great reception" when she returned to work, with banners, flowers, sausage rolls and hugs.

She said the past six months had been difficult for her family, particularly her children.

"My mum read some of the early media and the commentary on social media, which very vicious, and actually had a mini stroke as a result.

"It felt as though some stories got out of control, some people believed them, some other people believed them and it went from there ... it felt like it just got sillier and sillier."

Maxwell said she's quite tough, which may have come from growing up in London and being a courier van driver for a year in university, alongside 25 men.

"I'm probably quite direct, I'm quite frank but I'm also really fair and I demand excellence of myself and also my team."

She said she made a lot of change in the commission, like closing the Wellington office and taking it up to Auckland.

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"I think it went too fast and maybe I needed to slow down on that, but I also probably needed to understand that idea of a growth mindset and scaring yourself ... is not everybody's cup of tea."

Maxwell said she gets described as "a bit of a bloke", which is frustrating.

"I'm just me being a woman, just because I'm direct and frank doesn't make me a bloke - it makes me a direct, frank woman.

"I find sometimes I get a bit of flack for expectations I should be a more female female, or a softer woman and there's something slightly wrong with that.

"I think that's a bit of an issue that we've probably got to look at."

Maxwell thinks there needs to be a better way in the future to deal with similar situations like her six-month leave.

She said she got isolated and a lot of work didn't get done.

"I was supposed to be doing the review of Retirement Income Policies and that hasn't been done, that's a really important piece of work.

"There's got to be a better way to do it. I don't want anyone to go through what I've just been through."

Maxwell said after leaving, she was going to recollect her thoughts and re-gather, so she's ready to "do the things I do really well" which was addressing "big, thorny and complex issues with bravery and courage".