Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt is storing personal items — including furniture, mattresses and a large appliance still in bubble wrap — in council-owned buildings across the city.
The items, and their general whereabouts, have been confirmed by deputy mayor Nobby Clark who says he volunteered his time to help Shadbolt get on top of his "hoarding".
But the mayor has hit back, saying he still uses many of the items, and does not appreciate the help.
"During the past 28 years I have accumulated many items in the course of my position," he said.
"Over the past year and with the current regime, I have suffered the humiliation of a staff member going through every single page I own and determining whether they consider it relates to council or not."
He did not elaborate on who he was referring to.
Meanwhile, the council is remaining tight-lipped on how long the mayor's storage arrangements have been in place, and how it came about.
Clark claims Shadbolt's personal items have been held in storage at three different council-owned sites.
Those include the council's main building in downtown Invercargill, an old schoolhouse in Bainfield Rd, and a farmhouse in Awarua, where it is understood Shadbolt wrote some of his biography.
In March, Clark said he ordered a skip for the Bainfield Rd address and was joined by the mayor and his partner Asha Dutt for a working bee.
"Two boxes were full to the brim of business cards, some going back 35 years," Clark said.
"Every time someone gave him one, he kept it."
Clark said 50 boxes of "old stuff" were removed from the schoolhouse, and that he went back the day after to finish the job.
Later, Clark said the mayor accused him of "throwing away his life" which he felt "quite cut up about".
Local Democracy Reporting understands the issue of Shadbolt's storage was raised by council chief executive Clare Hadley, who was concerned about what would happen with the items should the mayor be unsuccessful in gaining re-election.
Asked if that was true, Hadley said she did not wish to comment.
"Council is working through a process with his worship to clear items, as we recognise it's important that council assets are for council purposes," she said.
Clark said he put his hand up for the job because he had a "good relationship" with the mayor, who ultimately agreed.
The ensuing collaboration was an interesting twist in an ongoing saga between the pair.
In May, it was revealed Shadbolt and his deputy had not spoken in weeks, Clark admitting the relationship was "strained".
The two are talking again, but Clark said the relationship was not what it used to be.
He said the Awarua address was home to predominantly furniture and bedding, and that the council building housed either a washing machine or dryer still in bubble wrap.
The clean-up even revealed old meeting minutes from Shadbolt's mayoral days in Auckland which Clark believed the mayor was holding for posterity.
"I do not think the public have any real interest in these petty power plays," Shadbolt said.