The Big Picture
- The classic New Zealand novel Once Were Warriors is being adapted into a TV series, set 30 years in the future with new characters and stories.
- The novel, which portrays the struggles of a Māori family dealing with poverty, racism, abuse, and alcoholism, was previously adapted into a critically acclaimed film in 1994.
- Author Alan Duff is excited about the new adaptation, promising that it will evoke a range of emotions and captivate a global audience.
Once Were Warriors, the classic New Zealand novel that unflinchingly depicted modern Māori life, is coming to TV. The novel was previously adapted into an acclaimed movie in 1994. Deadline reports that producer Rick Selvage and Alan Duff, the author of Once Were Warriors, are producing a new adaptation of the 1990 novel that brings the story thirty years into the future, and will feature a new generation of characters and stories.
Says Duff, of the new adaptation, “It’s these worldwide themes that inspired me to extend this family saga and bring it forward to the present day and to find a producing partner who understood the vision and possessed the sensibilities needed to bring it to a global broadcast audience. It will break your heart. It will make your spirits soar and your senses reel. This is my promise.”
What is ‘Once Were Warriors’?
Once Were Warriors depicts the struggles of the Hekes, a Māori family descended from great warriors who are now living in poverty in Auckland. Over the course of the book, the Hekes deal with racism, sexual abuse, youth gangs, suicide, and the violent alcoholism of family patriarch Jake. A success upon its release in 1990, the novel was filmed in 1994 by Lee Tamahori (The Edge, Die Another Day). Starring a largely Māori cast that included Temuera Morrison (The Book of Boba Fett), Rena Owen (Siren), and Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead), it was critically acclaimed, and a massive hit with New Zealand audiences. It is still considered one of the greatest New Zealand films of all time, and elevated Morrison and Curtis to international stardom. Muss wrote a 1996 sequel, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?, that follows the further lives of many of the book’s characters; it was adapted for the screen in 1999 by director Ian Mune with much of the same cast as the original, and was well-received. Muss’ third novel in the series, 2002’s Jake’s Long Shadow, has yet to be adapted.
The TV adaptation of Once Were Warriors will be executive produced by Onphaya’s Selvage (The Wheel of Time) and his producing partner Peta Johnson. Duff, whose novel was greatly inspired by his own troubled childhood, will also be writing a new book, Once Were Warriors: Generations, to tie in with the new series.
Stay tuned to Collider for future updates, and watch the original trailer for Once Were Warriors below.