Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town has refused to comment on several allegations of aggressive behaviour by a senior council officer, including an incident in a corporate box at an All Blacks test match.
The allegations have been provided to the Herald by a council whistleblower and confirmed by multiple sources.
They include an incident at last year's All Blacks test against France at Eden Park, an alleged expletive-ridden after-hours phone call and mediation with a colleague.
The whistleblower said they were at a loss at where to go with concerns about the behaviour over several years, saying "I do think it has to be called out. To date, no one has done so".
Town declined to be interviewed about the officer's behaviour, saying council does not comment on individual employment matters, nor is it appropriate to discuss how they are dealt with. Staff were trained in how to conduct themselves, regardless of their role or seniority, he said.
The officer, who holds a senior job at Auckland Council, said: "I do not want to comment."
Mayor Phil Goff said aggression and bullying were not tolerated in council.
"Where any behaviour raises these concerns, all employees are encouraged to take up the matter with the council's human resources team or directly to the CEO. I have asked the CEO to determine whether there are any outstanding issues of this nature," he said.
Town declined to say if there are any outstanding issues.
While Town would not comment on specifics, several council staff and other sources were prepared to talk on and off the record about run-ins with the officer.
A former senior manager laid a complaint against the officer that was being investigated, but the complaint was dropped when she left council. The whistleblower said it contained serious allegations against the officer, including screaming in meetings.
The former staffer said she could not comment on any matter that might be subject to confidentiality.
She did, however, confirm her husband had a run-in with the officer in the Eden Park Trust Board corporate box at the All Blacks-France test match last winter. She believes the officer intentionally stepped into her husband in the crowded box, sparking a verbal discussion.
A guest at the corporate box said the incident "didn't get violent but it got pretty close and someone had to insert themselves between the pair".
During the match, the former manager, who had left council at that point, said the officer sat behind her and "kicked the back of my seat the entire time".
Asked why, she said: "To provoke me... he wasn't happy to see me there."
In March last year, the officer allegedly called a senior staffer after hours, who described his language as "pretty strong". A source said the call ended with an expletive ridden threat to the staffer.
The staffer said he took the incident in his stride, but nevertheless reported it to his bosses.
One of those bosses told the Herald he confronted the officer at a function, saying he saw him on his own briefly and walked up to shake his hand.
With hands clasped, the boss said he steered the officer away from other people and told him in strong language to stop hassling his staff or he would "castrate" him. Another source said the incident got quite heated and two people had to step in to separate the pair.
A colleague of the officer said mediation took place between the pair. It started last year and concluded this year. The colleague said he had had enough of the officer's behaviour and decided to stand up to him. The mediation cost ratepayers $6635.
Councillor Ross Clow, who chairs the finance committee, confirmed he had a clash with the officer, saying the officer has a "strong personality" but had been less assertive and more co-operative since then.
Other sources described the officer as "bombastic", having an "aggressive tone and behaviour" and someone who needs to be put in a box and not allowed to manage anyone.