University staff have removed and destroyed hundreds of copies of the latest edition of Critic, the student magazine's staff have learned.

The cover of this week's publication - the "Menstruation Issue'' - depicted a cartoon of a naked person menstruating.

A University of Otago spokeswoman confirmed tonight the magazines were taken by Proctor Dave Scott after complaints were received from Dunedin Hospital and the Dunedin Public Library.

The Campus Watch team on duty on Monday night removed the rest of the magazines from stands around the university, she said.

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"This was an assumption - rightly or wrongly - that this action needed to be taken, as the university was also a public place where non-students regularly pass through."

The Campus Watch staff who spoke to Critic editor Joel McManus today about the missing magazines were initially unaware fellow staff had removed them.

Mr McManus said tonight he considered the removal to be censorship - something that went against everything a university should stand for.

"We stand by the content of the magazine, and believe it touched on a number of very important issues about period poverty and trans issues, as well as breaking taboos about a bodily function that half the population experience."

Earlier today, McManus admitted it was a "challenging cover".

He said he did not know which organisation would object to the material in the magazine to the extent they wanted to stop people reading it.

"It really is a bit disheartening," he said.

The Critic team had worked "incredibly hard" on the magazine, which came out on Sunday, he said. Some 4500 copies of the magazine were printed.

The magazine earlier put out an appeal to students on social media asking for information and McManus was working with Campus Watch to review CCTV footage to determine who removed the magazines.

Twelve years ago, an issue of Critic was banned for objectionable material.

"I don't think anything in this issue would meet those standards," McManus said.