Iwi leased school sites

As part of the Treaty Settlements Programme, some school sites have been sold to iwi claimant groups and then leased back to the Crown for as long as needed for education purposes. As a board of trustees, there is almost no difference in the way you run your school. The school site is leased from iwi under a Treaty settlement. All day-to-day operations are the same. A few things are different around land disposal and granting easements.

Treaty settlements over school land

The Government has made it a priority to settle historical Treaty of Waitangi claims. We contribute to this by working with the Office of Treaty Settlements and iwi to provide Treaty settlement redress over some education land. The Crown offers a range of redress options including the use of surplus Crown land; properties held in the Treaty landbank administered by Land Information New Zealand; and the sale and lease-back of some operational school sites.

Under the sale and lease-back option, a number of school sites have been sold to iwi and then leased back to the Crown. The lease is perpetually renewable so we can keep leasing the land for as long as we need it for education purposes (or any other public work). The iwi cannot end the lease – only we can do that.

In addition to sale and lease back redress, some iwi are offered a right of first refusal over certain surplus education properties under the Public Works Act 1981 Crown disposal process (external link) .

We cover the rental and all expenses associated with the transfer. The money for this is allocated specifically and there is no cost to leased schools.

When we sell a site to iwi, we reinvest the sale proceeds into our property portfolio.

How the Treaty sale and lease-back process works

1. Inspecting the site

Before a school site is sold under a Treaty settlement, the iwi and valuers might visit the school. They won’t need to go into any buildings.

Once a lease with iwi is in place, valuations will be done every 7 years for rent review purposes.

2. Negotiating the settlement

The settlement process generally takes a long time. The iwi and the Crown negotiate a settlement, and once they agree, they sign a Deed of Settlement.

The settlement is finalised when Parliament passes legislation to enact the settlement. Iwi can negotiate either a settlement date sale and lease-back (SAL) or a deferred selection sale and lease-back (DSP) as part of their settlement.

A SAL is sold to a claimant group on settlement date where as a DSP is when iwi have a longer time to decide whether they want to purchase the school land, usually 2 years after the legislation is passed.

See the glossary at the end of this page for further explanation of terms in the Treaty process.

3. We will liaise with affected schools

The Ministry’s Treaty team will liaise with schools whose land is included as settlement date SAL or DSP redress when these things happen:

  1. Once an education redress package is confirmed in an initialled Deed of Settlement.
  2. When school land is to be valued (note that for DSP redress, this step would follow step 3 below).
  3. When settlement legislation has been passed.
  4. If DSP school sites are sold and leased back to the Ministry.

We will not notify you before step 1. This is because of the sensitivity of negotiations and the fact that there is no certainty that a school site will be included until it is confirmed in an initialled Deed of Settlement between the Crown and iwi.

If your school site is committed to a DSP settlement in the future, you may need to treat it for some purposes as if it is already sold. Contact your Ministry property advisor who will then liaise with our Treaty Settlements team to provide you with information about plans for your school land. We will keep you updated if the iwi eventually choose to purchase your school site (subject to the lease-back arrangement).

4. Ending the lease

As the lease with iwi is perpetually renewable, we can use the site as a school for as long as it is needed. Only the Crown has the ability to exit this lease when it no longer requires the school site.

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

1. Buildings are not affected

The lease arrangement relates only to land and doesn’t 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.

You generally don’t need the iwi landlord’s permission to do building or landscaping work at your school but you should attach a copy of the Ministry’s lease with the iwi to any applications for building consent. This shows you have permission to deal with the land.

Timeframes for building projects are not usually lengthened as a result of the lease.

2. The school’s operation is not affected

Your school’s operation won’t be affected by ownership of the school site being transferred to iwi. Iwi landowners will not have any rights over how your school is run. This is guaranteed in the lease. The role of your board of trustees remains largely unchanged; it will be ‘business as usual’ for students and teachers; and you must continue to manage your school property including maintaining the grounds.

Iwi land owners cannot:

    • close your school
    • use the land for their own purposes
    • build or move buildings.

There are 3 situations where you may need to do things differently:

i. if you want to dispose of some of your school’s land

ii. if you want to grant an easement over your school’s land

iii. if someone asks to buy some of your school’s land.

i. If you want to dispose of some of your school’s land

You need to contact your property advisor at your local Ministry of Education office. You cannot simply put the land into disposal as we no longer own it.

Your property advisor will liaise with our Treaty Settlements team, who will negotiate with the iwi to remove some of the land from the lease. The lease may be changed to show the smaller amount being leased.

ii. If you want to grant an easement over your school’s land

An easement is where someone can use your land for a specific reason. For example, a power company may want to put a transformer on your school grounds. The Crown is able to grant an easement over land it leases off the iwi provided landowner consent is obtained but this means that the local electricity company’s rights will end if the lease ends. If the power company wants the easement to carry on after the lease ends, it will need to negotiate for an easement directly with the iwi landowner (in consultation with the Ministry as lessee of the site).

If you’re approached about an easement, contact your Ministry property advisor, who will liaise with our Treaty Settlements team.

To find out more about easements in general, see Easement affecting school land.

iii. If someone asks to buy some of your school’s land

An organisation may want to buy some of your school’s land. For example, your local council may put up some traffic lights to improve access and may want to own the piece of land that the lights are on. The council would need to contact the iwi and liaise with both of us directly. If the iwi and the council cannot reach agreement, the Ministry may be able to offer other options (although such options can only last as long as the Crown lease is in place).

3. What happens if the iwi wants to sell your school’s land

If the iwi wants to sell the land, the Crown has the first right to buy it back. If the Crown decides not to buy it, the iwi can only sell it to someone else with the lease in place so it should not affect your school.

Common terms in the Treaty settlement process

It can be helpful to know some words that are used in the Treaty settlement process:

  • Deferred selection sale and lease-back property (DSP) is similar to SAL but the iwi claimant group has an option to enter into the SAL arrangement within a set period of time (generally 2 years from settlement date). If iwi decide not to take up the option of buying the property, then it usually becomes available under the ‘right of first refusal’ option (see below).
  • Iwi means people, nations or tribes. It generally refers to a group of people bound together by their descent from a common ancestor(s).
  • Legislation in Treaty settlements means legislation that gives effect to a particular settlement.
  • Right of first refusal (RFR) gives iwi claimant groups the first option to buy surplus Crown property (land and any improvements left on site at the time of disposal) once the initial steps for disposing of the property have been completed. The initial steps include determining whether the transfer of the property to another government department or territorial local authority is required for another public work, and offering the property back to the previous owner or their beneficial successors.
  • Settlement date sale and lease-back (SAL) is where an operational school site (land only) is sold to a claimant group on settlement date, subject to an immediate lease-back to the Crown.

Further information

You can find more information about the Treaty settlements process on the Office of Treaty Settlements website (external link) . This includes details of all Crown lands being transferred in negotiated Treaty settlements – you can see specific settlement information for details.

If you have any further queries about the Ministry’s Treaty settlements programme, you can email the Treaty team at treaty.mailbox@education.govt.nz or property.help@education.govt.nz.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback