A search is presented for a heavy spin- 1 resonance Z decaying to a top quark and a vector- like top quark partner T in the lepton + jets final state. The search is performed using a data set of pp collisions at a centre- of- mass energy of 13 TeV corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 35.9 fb - 1 as recorded by the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC in the year 2016. The analysis is optimised for final states arising from the T decay modes to a top quark and a Higgs or Z boson ( T. Ht, Zt). The event selection makes use of resolved and merged top quark decay products, as well as decays of boosted Higgs bosons and Z and W bosons using jet substructure techniques. No significant deviation from the standard model background expectation is observed. Exclusion limits on the product of the cross section and branching fraction for Z . tT, T. Ht, Zt, Wb are presented for various combinations of the Z resonance mass and the vector- like T quark mass. These results represent the most stringent limits to date for the decay mode Z . tT. tHt. In a benchmark model with extra dimensions, invoking a heavy spin- 1 resonance G *, masses of the G * between 1.5 and 2.3 TeV and between 2.0 and 2.4 TeV are excluded for T masses of 1.2 and 1.5 TeV, respectively.