The Ministry of Education paid nearly $1 million to have two early education centres in Wellington transferred from Victoria University back to the Crown.
The payment was made after months of wrangling.
The centres - part of a former teacher training college in the suburb of Karori - were formally transferred to the university in 2014 for $10.
It took the campus onto its books through a merger with the teacher's college in 2004, acquiring the centres for nearly $1 million.
After the university decided to sell the campus in 2016, the Ministry applied to have the centres transferred back to the Crown, under the Public Works Act.
Emails released under the Official Information Act show it believed the centres had been transferred to the university in error, and as such should be returned for free.
But the university wanted $1.6 million, based on the properties' combined value.
In the end, the government paid $930,000.
Ministry of Education spokesperson Andrew Hutchinson said the Ministry entered into negotiations with Victoria University in good faith.
He said the Ministry was delighted that at the end of it, the two childcare centres would continue to provide early childhood education to families in the area.