Education Minister Trevor Mallard has come under fire for approving payments worth millions of dollars to embattled Te Wananga o Aotearoa despite its failing to meet student number requirements.

National Party education spokesman Bill English tabled papers in Parliament yesterday showing the wananga was paid "millions of dollars" in 2002 and 2003 despite the wananga breaching a Pakeha student number maximum stipulated in its Treaty of Waitangi deed of settlement.

The wananga enrolled 14,000 Pakeha students while the deed set a maximum of 6800.

Mr Mallard said that while one senior Education Ministry official questioned the payments, advice from Crown Law said they should be made.

He said because the wananga exceeded the 6400 Maori student numbers required by the deed, enrolling 20,400, it would have been "unreasonable" not to make the payments.

"The advice from Crown Law is that it was appropriate. We do not stop [the] wananga having money, for having too many honkies."

Mr Mallard has refused to pay a further $15 million suspensory loan as part of the treaty settlement as the wananga has not met a 80 per cent Maori student ratio. Maori make up 48 per cent of this year's enrolments.

"The wananga should never have received this payment," said Mr English, "and Trevor Mallard knows it."