Government poaching, housing pressure and seasonal fluctuations are being blamed for high staff turnover rates and tough recruitment at two Hawke's Bay councils.
Twenty-seven staff have left Tararua District Council since November, 14 of whom resigned.
Meanwhile, the number of people who left Napier City Council for the year ended June was 118 - equivalent of a 21 per cent staff turnover rate - attributed to its large number of seasonal workers.
A person spoken to by Hawke's Bay Today on condition of anonymity said the resignations in Tararua were driven by a change in culture brought about by the arrival of council chief executive Bryan Nicholson in November last year.
They said people felt "undervalued" and that there was now a "close door" culture.
Nicholson, who was previously chief operating officer at Whanganui District Council for four years, said recruitment issues and staff moving on was "nothing new" and something experienced in his previous role.
Of criticisms around culture, he said the organisation was growing through change.
"As with any change, you're going to get those who liked how it was.
"There's a small minority that don't agree."
Nicholson said some staff had left "for bigger and better roles" which was "normal", and a big boom in the building industry had made those jobs more challenging to recruit for across the country.
Government departments offering higher salaries and demand for skilled workers had increased people going out as contractors, he said, but the council had "contingency plans" for this.
He was optimistic about recruitment efforts, adding the council had "attracted some really good talent".
"We think we're in a really good space for recruitment.
"We've actually created new roles."
A spokesperson for Tararua District Council added: "Change can be unsettling for some people, resulting in them looking for different challenges.
"This is often positive for an organisation as it brings in new people with different skills and fresh ideas.
"We are pleased with the calibre of staff we have been able to attract to replace those moving on."
Mayor Tracey Collis said there was a "natural progression in jobs", though some positions were harder to fill, and with local government was experiencing shortages of specialist planning, building and engineering staff in particular.
"It's a bit of a challenging time," she said.
"We've got other companies in Tararua District which are looking for roles as well, and the housing crisis adds to it."
Napier mayor Kirsten Wise said their staff turnover was driven was by the council having a large number of public facilities, such as the National Aquarium and Kennedy Park, serviced by seasonal staff.
"We do have a slightly higher staff turnover than other councils because of the nature of our facilities.
"We do have those up and down peaks throughout the year, which is the main reason for our staff turnover figures."
She estimated total council staff fluctuated between 500 to 550 people.
The council currently has 17 vacancies advertised.
A Napier City Council spokesperson added the labour market was tight across many industries in the region and the council was "no exception".
Some roles requiring specialists skills, such as the water services area, were affected by a nationwide service, though Napier was considered an attractive relocation destination because of the lifestyle and enviable climate.
At the other end of the region, Wairoa District Council chief executive officer Kitea Tipuna said turnover rates no different to the "usual natural attrition" and they had seen no evidence of poaching by government departments.
He said attracting staff to rural communities could be challenging but they found once they were able to secure staff, most stayed in their position for an acceptable period of time because of the welcoming nature of the community and lifestyle offered.
A spokesperson for Hastings District Council said staff turnover remained "relatively steady" and it had not seen any poaching by government departments.
Any difficulties attracting staff primarily related to the tight labour market and a lack of suitably qualified and experienced candidates in the country.
Monique Davidson chief executive of Central Hawke's Bay District Council, which has an even smaller population, said they hadn't had any instances of "poaching" in relation to its waters team and turnover was not "atypical".
She said they continued to see an extremely high calibre of applications across wide-ranging roles, despite market restraints and competition, but were challenged by the typically hard to fill roles and competing with "higher salary expectations".