Alan Duff's Once were warriors is a novel as hard as the characters it contains. The Heke family live in a world of alcohol, violence, unemployment and cultural alienation. Beth Heke tries to provide her children with love, but her efforts are undermined by grinding poverty and the violence meted out to her by her husband, Jake. A tragedy prompts Beth to reconnect with her Māori roots, but she is unable to save all of her family. The book was turned into an internationally successful film in 1994.
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