Activists locked themselves to a government building to protest the way oil and gas permits were being distributed across New Zealand.

Members of the public reported dozens of police cars and a cordon around the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) building in Stout Street this afternoon.

Activist group Oil Free Wellington said three of its supporters locked themselves to the entrance of the NZ Petroleum and Minerals, which is part of MBIE.

The group said current oil exploration permits only benefited the rich, and marginalised other communities.

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"We must act urgently to transition away from fossil fuels. We can't sit by while our Government carves up our oceans and land for more fossil fuel exploration," the group said in a statement.

The activists attached themselves to the building at 2pm but were removed by about 3.30pm.