The Royal New Zealand Ballet board has commissioned an independent review following speculation over employment issues.

It's understood close to half of the current 36 dancers employed by the national ballet company will have left by the new year, not all by choice - less than six months after a new artistic director Patricia Barker, took over.

Four dancers were also fighting to keep their jobs and have filed personal grievances after their contracts were not renewed.

Former Deputy State Services Commissioner Doug Craig has been asked to conduct the review according to a statement released by RNZB today. It was set to focus on RNZB's employment processes to ensure they are robust and meet the standards of best practice.

"… there has been on-going speculation about historic workplace bullying and other allegations about workplace practices including that the RNZB favours overseas artists over New Zealand dancers," the statement read.


"The Board is deeply concerned at these claims."

The statement claimed 42 per cent of the dancers were either New Zealanders or New Zealand trained. It said RNZB had also been working hard to keep young dancers in New Zealand or entice those working overseas back.

"What this week has shown, though, is that we must work harder," the statement said.

The statement also said the company was confident that proper steps had been taken to investigate and respond to any complaints of alleged bullying made about company members.

"The Board has no tolerance for bullying or any other unsafe behaviour in the workplace."

Earlier this month Wellington lawyer David Patten, who was the dancers' union secretary, said around 16 of the dancers were leaving - some retiring, others dancing elsewhere and "at least four" did not have contracts renewed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is also Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, said this week that she was keeping an eye on the issue.

It's the second year in a row the national ballet company, which in the 2016 financial year received $4.88m in government funding, has gone through an artistic upheaval.

Late last year it was reported as many as 12 dancers and other staff left the country's only classical ballet company - three or four of them due to issues with the then-artistic director of almost three years Francesco Ventriglia.