Dozens of University of Auckland students are staging a sit-in to protest racism on campus.

The protesters say white supremacy and discrimination have no place at the university.

The protest action comes after the vice-chancellor refused to take down posters linked to white supremacy - saying they're an expression of free speech.

Protest spokesperson George Barton says there is about 60 people in the foyer of the university's clock tower which houses the vice-chancellor's office.

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The protesters are singing and chanting.

Another group of around 15 are out on the roadside with placards.

Posters and stickers promoting a recently-launched white nationalist group have been spotted at the university this week.

The university says the views expressed by the group are abhorrent - but are protected by freedom of speech.

In April, RNZ reported dozens of Auckland University students were becoming increasingly afraid of what they described as a growing white supremacist movement on campus.

They said after the Christchurch mosque shootings more students were expressing extreme views and white supremacist propaganda was being plastered on campus walls.

Now a new wave of white nationalist material has appeared - stickers and posters promoting a recently-launched white supremacist group.

George Barton, the president of the University's Students' Association, said the latest campaign was "completely unwelcome".

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Earlier this week, vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon told the university's student magazine Craccum, the group's posters are "unfortunate", but are protected by free speech.

Rhys Jones, a senior lecturer at the university, was disappointed by the response. He said the university should draw a line and show those beliefs aren't tolerated on campus.

"That would really show that we value the safety of vulnerable students and staff more than we do the rights of, you know, white nationalists to spread their harmful rhetoric."

Jones said the university's response could deter potential students.

"This type of thing does make it less safe for people of colour, people who are subject to racism and other forms of bigotry.

"So if there were international students looking to come to New Zealand to study, this might actually play into a decision to maybe not come to the University of Auckland if they see that as a potential threat."

- Additional reporting: RNZ