Full interview: Gore Mayor Ben Bell admits 'difficult' start to his tenure as councillors vote for independent review

Gore Mayor Ben Bell has admitted it has been a "difficult" start to his tenure after councillors voted for an independent review into issues within the council.

On Tuesday evening, councillors voted unanimously in favour of a review looking at breakdowns in key relationships and governance of meetings.

Bell, New Zealand's youngest Mayor, and council chief executive Stephen Parry have not been on speaking terms for some time.

Speaking to Newshub, Bell admitted it's been a tough time but said the council was still functioning.

"Ultimately, the relationship between the Mayor and the chief executive needs to be functional to have a high-performing council," Bell said.

He declined to speak about his relationship with Parry, saying it was an "exployment matter".

"I can still do my job and he can do his - the council meeting didn't come to a standing halt at any stage. We may not be super friendly but we can still do our roles." 

Earlier this month, a by-election was triggered after long-standing councillor Bret Highsted handed in his resignation - citing high levels of stress and "unsustainable anxiety".

But Bell insisted he had a good relationship with all the councillors.

"It's perfectly fine around the table," he said.

In a separate interview, Parry admitted the current situation was the toughest he'd experienced after two decades in the job.

"There has been a breakdown but it runs deeper than myself and the Mayor," he said. "There's a lot of dissatisfaction and frustration and sadness as to how the council's travelling in terms of its governance operation."

Parry declined to comment when asked by Newshub if Bell was fit to be the Mayor.

He said he hoped the council's executive staff and elected members would be able to find a way forward.

"That's where we've landed... hopefully with some recommendations and some commitment to change, things can move forward," Parry said of the independent review.