Reading about New Zealand: Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff

Well, I said in my intro to New Zealand that I wanted to move past all that pretty scenery and dig deeper into the psyche of the country.

Mission accomplished. Perhaps OVER-ACCOMPLISHED.

I started a few different titles, but nothing was clicking. Finally settled on Once Were Warriors, by Alan Duff, and stuck with it.

Now that I’m done, I kind of don’t know what to say. There was nothing easy about this book, at all. It’s good, in that it’s well-written, in a confident voice, and about a community -and its problems- that I might never know about otherwise. It’s painful in that quite a few of the characters make terrible choices, and are cruel and abusive to those around them. And the one character I did respect and like…well, it’s just harsh.

Published in 1990, this book is still controversial, and it’s easy to see why. It was made into a movie about a decade later, and I’m still deciding if I can handle watching it…

All told, a worthwhile read but it will hit you hard.

Front of a traditional Maori long canoe
Front of a traditional Maori long canoe
(image by Steve Evans from Citizen of the World via Wikimedia Commons)

2 thoughts on “Reading about New Zealand: Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff

  1. biblioglobal November 23, 2015 / 8:04 pm

    I read The Bone People for New Zealand and I find everything you say about Once We Were Warriors strangely applicable to The Bone People as well.

    • TheGlobalReader December 11, 2015 / 4:45 pm

      I would say I would check that one out, but I’ll wait awhile…tough reading!

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