The classic New Zealand novel “Once upon a Time there were Warriors”, memorably filmed by Lee Tamahori in 1994, will receive a TV adaptation from the head of the Wheel of Time Rick Selvidge and the author of the novel Alan Duff.
An additional novel written by Duff is also being prepared, titled “Once upon a Time there were Warriors: Generations”.
Duff will collaborate with Onphaya’s Selvage and the latter’s production partner, Peta Johnson, who will serve as executive producers.
In the original novel and film, a family descended from Maori warriors is haunted by an abusive father and social problems associated with treating them as outcasts.
Once Were Warriors: Generations will propel the Heke family 30 years ahead to this day with a new generation of characters and stories.
According to the producers, “political aspirations, financial plans, cultural upheavals and the desire for redemption are at the heart of this series, imbued with the distinctive Maori culture and the ruthless past of the Heke family. It will take place against the backdrop of the multicultural society of New Zealand and the general socio-economic tensions of today…”
The new novel and series will take place in Auckland and Rotorua, New Zealand.
Duff said, “It was these world issues that inspired me to expand this family saga and bring it to the present day, as well as to find a production partner who would understand this vision and have the necessary sensitivity to bring it to a global audience.. It will break your heart. It will cheer you up and make your feelings tremble. This is my promise.”
The vivid 1994 film starring Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen drew sharp criticism and was awarded New Zealand Film and Television awards after being shown in Venice and Toronto.
Said Selvidge of Onphaya: “Who can resist the power of the ‘Once Upon a Time There Were Warriors’ story told through the eyes of the rich culture of the indigenous Maori peoples and the beauty of New Zealand? I was attracted by the passion in Alan’s storytelling and the exciting new Moderna world he created with the Heke family, his personal problems and his ultimate triumph.”