Chief executive of the Christchurch City Council, Tony Marryatt, says its internal trust issues are unlikely to be resolved this term.
The council has spent $80,000 on an independent audit only to be told it has issues of distrust and misunderstanding.
The audit has found residents do not trust the council and do not understand its decision-making processes.
It also outlined a need for elected councillors and management to adopt a culture of open communication, both internally and with the public.
Mr Marryatt says a history of leaking information to the public needs to be ironed out.
The review of the council's communications functions was commissioned by Mr Marryatt in January.
The audit said a lack of visibility by council management and staff, and engagement with interested groups, has lead to a perception that they "don't care" about residents.
The council also came under fire for not having any internal communications plan, with a number of councillors complaining they have heard about issues via the media.
The audit makes 13 recommendations, including a communications plan to explain the council's rationale behind decision making.
A spokesperson for Cantabrians Unite, Hugh Pavletich says the council needs to decentralise and get back out into the community.