Once Were Warriors Gets TV Adaptation

Alan Duff’s best-selling 1990 novel, Once Were Warriors, is getting a television adaptation almost three decades after the Lee Tamahori directed film adaptation was released in 1994.

The award-winning author himself will be collaborating with The Wheel of Time executive producer Rick Selvage to bring the classic yet controversial tale to the small screen.

Apart from the series adaptation, Once Were Warriors will also get a novel sequel titled Once Were Warriors: Generations, set to bring the Heke family to the present day. 

Once Were Warriors follows the Hekes, a Māori family, as they deal with their troubled, violent father and a society that views them as outcasts. Chronicling the reality of domestic violence in New Zealand, the novel received divisive reactions upon its release, with the film adaptation leaving an indelible mark in New Zealand’s cultural history. 

Once Were Warriors Series Adaptation “Will Break Your Heart,” Says Duff

According to producers, the television adaptation will explore “political aspirations, financial schemes, cultural clashes, and a search for redemption” that is filtered through “the distinctive Māori culture and the Heke family’s unforgiving past.” They added, “It will be set against the backdrop of New Zealand’s multicultural society and the universal socio-economic tensions of the present day.”

On his plan to expand the Heke family’s tale, Duff explained: “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.”

Duff then promised that the series adaptation of his classic novel will certainly break hearts. “It will make your spirits soar and your senses reel. This is my promise.”

The 1994 film, starring Temuera Morrison as Jake Heke and Rena Owen as Beth Heke, debuted to critical acclaim, having received favorable reviews from critics and audiences alike.