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 p p collisions at a centre-of-mass energy of 13TeV corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 35.9fb-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 → H t , Z t). 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 ′ → t T , T → H t , Z t , W b 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 ′ → t T → t H t. In a benchmark model with extra dimensions, invoking a heavy spin-1 resonance G ∗ , masses of the G ∗ between 1.5 and 2.3TeV and between 2.0 and 2.4TeV are excluded for T masses of 1.2 and 1.5TeV, respectively.