A group of University of Auckland student protesters have left the clock tower building, which they have been occupying since this morning.

The students spent 12 hours in a formal sit-in to demand an end to support for fossil fuels.

The 13 students occupied Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon's wing in the historic tower, demanding he actively support divestment from oil, coal and gas companies.

Fossil Free University of Auckland spokesman Alex Johnston said: "We're occupying this space to demand leadership from the university on climate for all our futures. Climate change is an emergency for humanity, and we won't leave until Stuart McCutcheon takes a stand and supports university divestment from fossil fuels."


Protester Ivan Mouraviev said the group's demands had not been met and no formal response was given from the vice-chancellor.

No arrests were made, although the protesters said earlier today they were willing to be arrested for the cause.

There will be no sit-in tomorrow. A public rally will be held on Wednesday, where the group will reiterate their demands.

For more than two years, Fossil Free University of Auckland has campaigned for the university to cease investing in oil, coal and gas extraction companies to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry.

To date, the vice-chancellor has road-blocked progress on divestment by refusing to support the call for the university foundations to stop financing fossil fuel companies, Johnston said.

The campaign is endorsed by the Auckland University Students' Association, and is part of a global movement that has led to institutions representing more than $5 trillion in assets divesting from fossil fuels.

Divested institutions include the University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, the Auckland Council, and many overseas institutions, including the Rockefeller Foundation.

Said Johnston: "By refusing to publicly support divestment, the vice-chancellor is signalling that he is fine with the university funding climate change, and is disregarding the calls of over 3000 students, staff and alumni, who have signed our petition, and the support of Ausa and 22 other students associations and clubs.

"We're demanding that Stuart McCutcheon stand on the right side of history and support divestment for all our futures."

Mouraviev said the protesters were willing to be arrested in their bid to get the university to sell its investments in fossil fuel businesses.

"The university has an investment portfolio, an endowment fund, of about $100 million. The demand is for the vice-chancellor to support that fund being divested from coal, oil and gas companies, which make up about 1 to 3 per cent of the fund," he said this morning.

"We entered at about 8am this morning. The vice-chancellor wasn't here, but we just got word that his car was there and he was outside the building trying to get in.

"There were a few staff here. The goal isn't total disruption. Those people that need to go about their day mostly will still be able to. The goal is a longer-term sit-in as a symbolic thing."

He said the group had originally planned to stay in the building until a rally against fossil fuel investments in the university quad at midday on Wednesday, which will be addressed by Green Party candidate Chloe Swarbrick.

A university spokesman said it did not hold any investments in fossil fuel companies, saying that under the Public Finance Act universities could invest only in registered banks.

"We acknowledge that some students have called for the University Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. The foundation manages its own funds, most of which have a charitable purpose for the benefit of the University," the spokesman said.

"The university has no jurisdiction over the foundation. However, we are aware that the foundation's investment managers are signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

"The university has a strong commitment to sustainability and improving its environmental performance. This includes institutional membership of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, through which we are working with other tertiary institutions and organisations across the public and private sectors globally to generate the solutions that will deliver on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

"The University of Auckland believes in the freedom of speech and therefore we support our students' right to voice their views. However, protesting should remain peaceful and not pose a threat to the health and safety of members of the public or the university, and should not disrupt the normal activities of staff and students."