Treaty of Waitangi Settlements Property Redress Programme

Learn about the Ministry’s Treaty Settlements Property Redress programme, including what may happen if your school is transferred to a claimant group.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Claimant Groups

Schools can find information and frequently asked questions about the Treaty Settlement Redress programme. 

Overview of Treaty Settlements

The Government has made it a priority to settle historic Treaty of Waitangi claims, and settlements aim to resolve those claims by providing some redress to claimant groups.

The Office for Maori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti (formerly the Office of Treaty Settlements) negotiates the settlement of claims, including helping claimant groups to get ready to enter negotiations. Treaty settlements generally include cultural, relationship, financial and commercial redress.

You can find more information about the kinds of redress provided to claimant groups and detailed information about each stage of the settlement process on the Te Arawhiti website.

The Ministry’s contributions to Treaty settlements

Through the Ministry’s Treaty settlements programme, some Crown owned land that is administered by the Ministry of Education is being made available for commercial and/or cultural redress through the sale and lease-back of some operational school sites (land only).

The Education Infrastructure Service (EIS) Treaty settlements team

The property redress aspect of this work is managed on behalf of the Ministry by the EIS Treaty team.

The Treaty team works with iwi and Te Arawhiti over the potential inclusion of Education property (located within a claimant group’s area of interest) as redress for settlement claims. The Treaty team also liaise with schools whose land is included as settlement redress.

The process of transferring school sites to iwi claimant groups

Through the Ministry’s Treaty settlements programme, identified school sites (land only) are sold to iwi claimant groups and then leased back by the Ministry for as long as it is needed for education purposes. The sale can happen either at settlement date or within a set period following settlement. These arrangements are known as:

Sale and Lease-back (SAL) Where the Ministry transfers ownership of the school site (land only) to the claimant group on settlement date and then leases it back to the Ministry
Deferred Selection Property (DSP) Where the claimant group is provided a set period (usually two years) to decide whether they wish to enter into a SAL arrangement for specified school site (land only).

The lease is perpetually renewable, so the Ministry can keep leasing the land for as long as it is needed for education purposes (or any other public work) and only the Ministry can end the lease.

In addition to sale and lease-back redress, some claimant groups are offered a Right of First Refusal (RFR) over the purchase of certain surplus school sites.

  • Right of First Refusal (RFR) gives claimant groups the first option to purchase surplus Crown sites once initial steps of the disposal process have been completed. These initial steps include transfer of the property to another government department or territorial local authority if required for another public work, and offering the property back to the previous owner or their beneficial successors.

What it means if your school site is leased under a Treaty settlement

Day-to-day school operations

The day-to-day operations of a school site are not affected by ownership being transferred to iwi. The lease terms ensure the school management team continues to manage the school’s day-to-day operation as usual, including maintaining the grounds.

The role of the Board of Trustees remains largely unchanged and it will be ‘business as usual’ for students and teachers.


The lease arrangement relates only to land and does not include buildings. Ownership of all improvements on the site, including those owned by the board or a third party, will be unaffected by the sale to iwi.

Generally you do not need the iwi landlord’s permission to do building or landscaping work at your school. However, you should attach a copy of the Ministry’s lease to any applications for building consent. This shows you have permission to deal with the land. The timeframes for building projects are not usually lengthened as a result of the lease.

Frequently asked questions

Below you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about schools and Treaty settlements. 

Frequently asked questions about schools and Treaty settlements

Why is my school site being included in a Treaty settlement?

The Government’s settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims includes various types of redress, including the transfer of Crown owned properties located in the claim area. If your school is part of a Treaty settlement, the iwi claimant group may elect to purchase your school site and lease it back to the Crown/Ministry for as long as it is required for education purposes (or any other public work).

Is only my school site going to be sold?

No. School site redress is a fairly standard part of many Treaty settlement packages and several schools in your area may have been offered to iwi for purchase, or already sold to iwi.

Why is the Crown selling school land that is currently used for education purposes – shouldn’t the Crown use surplus lands and land banked sites for settlement redress?

The Government’s goal is to conclude all Treaty of Waitangi settlements. To help achieve this, the Government has determined some school sites (and other Crown property) be made available as sale and lease-back redress. Land banked sites continue to be used as redress in most Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

When will my school site transfer into iwi ownership?

If your school is part of a Treaty settlement and iwi elect to purchase the school site, it will be sold to iwi on settlement date (unless it is a deferred selection property). Settlement date is when legislation is enacted in Parliament to put into effect the particular Treaty settlement for that iwi. This is the end of a long and complicated treaty settlement claims process for iwi.

What other Crown lands are being transferred in Treaty settlements?

The Te Arawhiti website has details of all Crown lands being transferred in Treaty settlement negotiations.

Will the iwi need to come and inspect our school site?

No. Before a school site is sold, the Ministry may arrange for a registered valuer to visit the school to value the land (they won’t need to access the school buildings). Once the lease is in place, further site valuations are done every seven years for rent review purposes.

What changes can students and teachers expect at our school after the settlement is concluded?

It will be ‘business as usual’ for students and teachers at your school. School operations will continue as normal with the role of your board of trustees remaining largely unchanged. Iwi landowners do not have any rights over how your school is run.
The only differences you will notice are if your board intends to dispose of school property or grant easements over the school site.

Will the iwi own our school buildings as part of the sale?

No. The sale and lease-back of the school site is for the land only. The Crown/Ministry will have a long term tenant/landlord relationship with iwi under the leasing arrangement. Ownership of all improvements on the site, including those owned by the board or a third party, will be unaffected by the transfer.

Can the iwi landlord erect new buildings on the school grounds?

No. While leased by the Ministry for education purposes, iwi cannot erect buildings on the school site without written consent from the Ministry. If the lease is ended by the Ministry (because the land is no longer required for education purposes) and the land is no longer required for any other public works, iwi landowners would need to follow usual building consent processes.

Once the iwi own the school land, will they be able to close the school and use the site for their own purposes?

No. The lease with iwi is perpetually renewable so that the Ministry is able to use the site as a school for as long as it is needed. Only the Crown has the ability to exit this lease.

What if the iwi landowners decide they want to sell our school site?

The lease document allows for the Crown to have the first right to purchase back the site, if the iwi landowner ever chooses to sell. If the Crown does not purchase back the site, the iwi landowner can only sell the school site to a third party with the lease to the Crown/Ministry in place.

Will the school site be leased from iwi forever or is it for a set period of time?

The school site will be leased from iwi for as long as the Crown needs it for education purposes or another public work as the lease is perpetually renewable.

Will the rental costs for the land come out of our school funding budget?

No. The Ministry pays all rental costs for the school site.

If the iwi own our school site, will they have to maintain the school grounds, such as mowing the lawns?

No. Maintaining the school grounds is part of the school’s normal operations and will remain the school’s responsibility.

Will we need to get permission from the iwi to do any building work at our school?

No. Construction work or alterations on the school site will not require iwi landlord’s consent. However a copy of the ground lease should be attached to building consent applications. Timeframes for building projects should therefore not be lengthened as a result of the lease. Consent is also not required for any landscaping works.

If we want to dispose of some of our school land, will we need to talk to the iwi landowner?

As the land is no longer owned by the Crown (it is leased from the iwi landowner), the Ministry or school board are not able to sell it. The Crown may however be able to negotiate with iwi for the lease to be amended to reflect a smaller area of land being leased. If this is something you are considering, please contact your School Property Advisor who will liaise with the Treaty Settlements team at National Office.

We need additional vehicle access to the school, which requires installing traffic lights. The local Council will maintain these lights and would like to own the land beneath the lights. Can we organise this without dealing with the iwi landowner?

No. The Council will need to contact the iwi landowner if it wishes to own the land beneath the traffic lights. The Council will also need to liaise with the Ministry/Crown and if the Council cannot reach agreement then the Ministry/Crown may be able to offer other options to the council (although such options can only last as long as the Crown lease is in place).

The local electricity company wants to place an easement over our school site allowing cabling to go across the property. Can we do this on the leased school site?

Yes. The Crown is able to grant an easement over its leasehold interest in the school site. However, the electricity company’s rights would end if the Crown ended the lease. If the electricity company wishes to have an easement that will carry on even if the lease ends, they will need to negotiate directly with the iwi landowner.

What if our school site has been committed to a future settlement, but has not yet been sold to iwi?

If a school site is committed to a settlement in future, it may need to be treated for some purposes as if it is already sold. For advice in this situation, please contact your local School Property Advisor who will then liaise with the Treaty Settlements team at National Office.

School Property Advisor - Property staff contact details

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