The Crown has agreed to buy the land at Ihumātao in Mangere from Fletcher Building for $29.9 million.
The transaction is taking place outside of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process.
The 33 hectares of land may be used for housing, heritage and conservation purposes.
The roles of the Crown, Kīngitanga and Auckland Council in deciding exactly what happens to the land has been outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by all three parties.
A “steering committee” made up of three Ahi Kaa representatives supported by the Kīngitanga, one representative for the Kīngitanga and two representatives for the Crown will guide decision-making around the land. An Auckland Council representative will be allowed to attend meetings as an observer.
Fletchers bought the land in 2014 for $19 million. Its plans to build 480 homes on the land were met with opposition by those who sought to protect its heritage. Fletchers said selling the land for $29.9 million would "broadly" see it break-even.
Kīngitanga spokesman Rahui Papa said: “After more than 160 years of alienation from Ihumātao, the descendants of the original owners will be reconnected with their whenua.”
Papa said the Kīngitanga’s intervention brought a “tikanga-based approach” to the discussions and gave the parties the time to develop a “by Māori for Māori” solution.
He characterised the deal as meaning: "The Crown will now hold the land on trust while a Kīngitanga-led process is undertaken to decide the Ahi Kaa status of parties who claim a connection to the whenua.
"Those parties will consult with whaanau and tribal members on the future of the whenua, which may be used for housing, heritage, and conservation purposes.
"Meanwhile, Auckland Council will play a role in the care and maintenance of the land."
Housing Minister Megan Woods said the form of housing to be built on the land will be agreed by the signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding, and could include Papakainga housing, housing for mana whenua and some public housing.
“It will be a sensitive development that recognises the special characteristics of the land,” Woods said, without indicating roughly how many houses may be built on the land.
“There is a need for housing to support kaumatua and kuia of this place and this agreement recognises that.”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said: “We acknowledge the decision, by Heritage New Zealand to extend the classification in regard to this land, will have some impact on what happens.
“Alongside housing, the parties want to use some of the land to provide better recognition of the cultural and heritage values associated with Ihumātao.”
Fletcher Building CEO Ross Taylor said: “We thank the Government for the pragmatic way they have approached this process. It hasn’t been easy, and we acknowledge their role.
“We also acknowledge the iwi who we engaged with throughout the consenting and proposed master planning of the land. Any plans for the land are now a matter for the Crown and Kīngitanga."
National: Govt 'meddling in private property rights'
National's Finance Spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said: “The Prime Minister should never have involved herself in the Ihumātao dispute and taxpayers shouldn’t bailing her out now.
“[The deal] will call all full and final treaty settlements into question and set a dangerous precedent for other land occupations, like the one at Wellington’s Shelly Bay.
“More than 20,000 Kiwi families are on the waiting list for a home this Christmas. The Government should not be spending $30 million on stopping 480 much-needed houses from being built right now."
Greens: Crown had a 'moral obligation' to buy the land
Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said: “I am hopeful that this process can go some way to healing the pain caused by the wrongful confiscation of this land from mana whenua in 1863.
“The Crown has a moral obligation to fund the purchase of this land today, given it dispossessed the mana whenua of this land in the first place.
“We cannot have true justice today, or purport to care about property rights, unless we acknowledge our history and the injustice of past land confiscations.”
ACT: Ardern's 'worst decision as PM'
ACT leader David Seymour said: “Buying Fletcher Building out of Ihumatao has formalised Jacinda Ardern’s worst decision as Prime Minister.
“It is the equivalent of the US President siding with Antifa over the businesses they vandalise.
“It’s now clear, if you own land and someone squats on it, the Prime Minister won’t defend your property rights, she’ll use taxpayers’ money to buy the land off you.
“In the case of Ihumatao, it’s apparently okay because future housing on the site will be ‘a sensitive development that recognises the special characteristics of the land.’
“Perversely, that precisely describes what Fletcher Building went through years of consultation and design with mandated iwi to try and deliver.
“It will be a miracle if this hotchpotch of an arrangement ever builds any houses, given this Government’s track record."