The Ka Awatea research project recognises the altruistic history of Te Arawa educational provision, and acknowledges the foundation that was set down by tribal ancestors for the benefit of those who followed them. The references to the past have great importance to the study. This is made more real by identifying the qualities modelled by former Te Arawa icons which inform the education community today. Like all tribes in Aotearoa, Te Arawa valued learning, and the desire for educational success in the younger generations was paramount to the growth and development of the land and the people – those of today and those not yet born. Notwithstanding the national statistics there are growing numbers of successful Māori students, and also calls for changes to school environments, communities and curricula that support Māori success and assure its continuance. This study is about making culture count. It draws from the ‘success’ attributes of eight tribal ancestors as the key indicators for determining the domains of success, and the relevance of these attributes in contemporary educational and societal systems.