Treaty Settlements Programme

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

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Claimant Groups

Through the Treaty Settlements Programme, some Crown owned land administered by the Ministry of Education is available for commercial and/or cultural redress. This is actioned by the sale and lease-back of some operational school sites (land only).

The Treaty settlements team within Te Puna Hanganga, Matihiko | Infrastructure and Digital manage the property redress aspects of this programme and liaise with schools and Te Arawhiti, while the Ministry’s Te Puna Kaupapahere | Policy team leads work on negotiating relationship redress aspects.

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 school board remains largely unchanged, and it will be ‘business as usual’ for students and teachers.

The Ministry has developed a standard Treaty ground lease which ensures Education property redress lease-back arrangements are consistent, fair and equitable across settlements. 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 the lease provisions ensure the school can continue to operate without disruption. 


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 transfer of land ownership to iwi and will not require iwi consent.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Below you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about schools and Treaty 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. Settlement date is when legislation is enacted in Parliament to put into effect the particular Treaty settlement for that iwi. Alternately, iwi may be provided with a set period after settlement date (defined in the legislation) in which they can decide whether to purchase the site.


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

Before a school site is sold, the Ministry may arrange for a registered valuer to visit the school to value the land or for iwi representatives to do a pre-purchase site inspection (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?

Nothing changes for students and teachers at your school with the board’s role remaining unchanged. In this respect the lease is a commercial arrangement and the new landowners do not have any rights over how your school operates.

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, the landowners cannot erect buildings on the school site without written consent from the Ministry. However, this does not prevent a separate leasing arrangement for a building or buildings like what happens with many third parties seeking community-based partnerships with schools.

Once the iwi owns 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 can use the site as a school for as long as it is needed. Only the Crown can exit this lease.

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.

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 landowner consent. However, it is considered best practice to engage with the mana whenua of your school should any construction work involve breaking the ground. A copy of the ground lease should also be attached to building consent applications, but timeframes for building projects should not be lengthened because of the lease. Consent is also not required for any landscaping works.

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