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Clips (5)

  1. The trailer for this feature film.

  2. The credits from this film.

  3. An interview with Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell - behind the scenes of Once Were Warriors.

  4. The making of Once Were Warriors. Behind the scenes footage.

  5. An excerpt from this feature film.


Once Were Warriors was an internationally successful film that honestly opened the eyes of cinema goers to an unexamined aspect of modern New Zealand life. Director Lee Tamahori's visceral and hard hitting depiction of gang and domestic violence amongst an urban Māori whānau, was adapted from the best-selling Alan Duff novel by screenwriter Riwia Brown. Produced by Robin Scholes, the film provided career-defining roles for Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen as Jake the Mus and Beth Heke. It is NZ most watched local release (besting Boy by bums on seats measure).


A perspective by Paul Stanley Ward 22.10.2008

This is a brutal tale of an urban Māori whānau falling apart as patriarch Jake abuses his rage and Beth struggles to hold the family together in a South Auckland slum. The important film captured the attention of not only "shaken and silent" ...

Read more ›

Writer's perspective by Riwia Brown 22.10.2008

The adaptation of Alan Duff's book and the development of the screenplay for Once Were Warriors was one of the most challenging and yet creative times of my early writing career.

Following a chance meeting with ...

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A Māori Perspective by Maraea Rakuraku 22.10.2008

"Where the fuck is everyone!" bellows Jake Heke aka Jake the Muss (Temuera Morrison) as he swaggers onto the screen and into the New Zealand consciousness, via Once Were ...

Read more ›

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Comments (5)

 Real Poor Person

Real Poor Person

The first tragic untruth portrayed in the film is that people from "lower socio-economic backgrounds" are generally much kinder to each other than the book and script allowed. The second untruth is that Jake or the philanderer who kept being thrown out of pubs more likely abused Gracie than that other guy who looked like a closet gay. The third untruth is that boys in New Zealand are more likely to hang themselves than girls. Gracie's death was an uninspiring misdirected fabrication that says nothing for the strength of spirit that a real girl would have.

 Julie Hill

Julie Hill

The sequel is "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted". You can find out more about it here:

 sebastian frawley

sebastian frawley

I heard that there was a sequel to once were warriors. I think the name of is (something) of the broken hearted. If this is correct what is the correct name of the sequel?

 Lindsay Shelton

Lindsay Shelton

The movie was never banned in the USA or anywhere else. It had a wide US theatrical release with enthusiastic reviews. Particular praise was given to the performances of Rena Owen and Temuera Morrison.



Hi, is it rumour or truth that this movie was banned in the USA shortly after release?

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You’re not gonna hurt my babies anymore. 
Cook the man some f**king eggs. 
The film is a social tragedy, observed in love and pain. It's also a study of class animosities within a the end, Once Were Warriors has left an ache in your heart, a hole in your gut 
It's jolting and electric, charged with the immediacy of its characters' anger and hurt. Morrison and Owen turn in stunning performances. 


1996 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
Nominated for Best Actress: Rena Owen

1995 Australian Film Institute Awards
Best Foreign Film

1995 Rotterdam International Film Festival
Audience Award for Favourite Film

1995 Fantasporto International Festival of Cinema (Portugal)
Best Actress: Rena Owen
Runner up for Critic's Award
Nominated for Best International Fantasy Film Award

1994 Venice Film Festival

Anicaflash Prize for Best First Film

1994 San Diego International Film Festival

Best Actress: Rena Owen

1994 New Zealand Film and Television Awards

Best Film
Director: Lee Tamahori
Script: Riwia Brown
Male Performance in a Dramatic Role: Temuera Morrison
Female Performance in a Supporting Role: Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell
Juvenile Performance: Taungaroa Emile
Editing: Michael Horton
Film Score: Murray Grindlay and Murray McNabb
Soundtrack: Kit Rollings, Ray Beentjes, Michael Hedges, and Graham Morris

1994 Montreal World Film Festival
Grand Prix des Ameriques (Grand Prize)
Best Actress: Rena Owen
Audience Prize for Favourite Film
Ecumenical Jury Prize

Judged one of the 10 Best Films of the Year by
NZ Herald, More magazine, Time Magazine, The Melbourne Age, Melbourne Sunday Herald, Sunday Age, Sydney Sunday Telegraph