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Kerran sotureita (Once were warriors trilogy #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,945 Ratings  ·  158 Reviews
PEN-palkittu romaani Uuden-Seelannin maorien arkipäivän helvetistä. Myös teoksen pohjalta tehty elokuva on voittanut useita palkintoja.
Paperback, 228 pages
Published 1995 by Like (first published 1990)
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Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This started out a book review, but it's also a bit of a personal essay, and it's not all pretty. And this is really long, consider yourselves warned :)

I thought about doing the 30 day book challenge, but there's always this one question in those kinds of things that make me pause. This time it was "A book that reminds you of home". And this book (and the devastatingly good movie made from it) are always the first thing that springs to mind.

Ironically the movie came up in a class this week (Cult
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took a while to read this rather short book of fiction for two reasons. First, because it written in a dialect using the thoughts of characters damaged by hardships and violence, alcohol and lost or lacking education. And second, because the subject matter was so tough it was hard to handle much in one sitting.

The story takes place in an urban New Zealand Maori community. The family depicted is fathered by Jake Heke, a fists-always-ready man whose prowess hinges on intimidation. His medium i
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this book as part of my self-proclaimed New Zealand November. It was in a pile loaned by a professor who worked for years in Australia.

This was a very difficult read for several reasons. One is the violence - it is set in the middle of the 20th century, in urban New Zealand, where people descended from native New Zealanders - former warriors - are now marginalized and living in poverty. This leads to the usual issues of alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, unsupervised children, dea
I don't know if I can say I actually liked this book. I recognize its importance, and it had a huge impact on me.

Once Were Warriors is a brutal account of a Maori family who lives in government housing and receives welfare money. The father, Jake, lost his job, but didn't bother finding a new one as he got paid nearly as much to not work at all. Since he gives half his welfare check to his wife to maintain the household and feed their six children, he feels like a pretty good guy. He keeps the
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Oscar Wilde is reported as saying, "There are no good books or bad books. A book is well written or badly written. That is all."
Well, I don't know if he actually said that. (Like Twain and Franklin, ol' Oscar gets attributed boatloads of things he never actually wrote.) I'm not sure I'd agree with it straight across the board, but there are some extremely well written books out there that make damned uncomfortable reading--and yet you read them. This is one.

A friend of mine had to read this book
Deborah Pickstone
I saw the film years ago and it is devastating. And very accurate, sadly. This book is not cute. People see NZ as beautiful but you can't live on landscapes. NZ is also a world leader (or close to it) in so many things that we can't feel proud of - youth suicide, teenage pregnancy, family violence, especially to children. Poverty breeds these things and there is plenty of that here. Machismo is the way to go for many NZers; it is still seen as 'being strong'. The men here remain inarticulate (a ...more
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm actually on the fence. I really liked the book, as much as you can like a depressing book that has a fairly predictable plot, because I do feel like it was written from a deep personal reflection (the author is half Maori I believe)? However I think the danger in these types of novels is if it is all you read about Maoris you think, "oh I know their story - drunks, addicts, abusers" and there you go, you've categorized a whole racial group.

As long as you remember that this is fiction and al
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Once Were Warriors comes at you like a slap (or more likely, a punch) in the face. The writing is harsh and certainly doesn't waste time with niceties, but it's engaging and often surprisingly beautiful. The characters are tragic, living in the limbo of poverty, addiction, and abuse. The story is shockingly, heartbreakingly real.

One of the most striking moments for me came right at the beginning, when Beth considers the lack of books in their home, or the homes of any of her neighbours and frie
I've heard of but never seen the film and was curious about the book and after reading I can see why it originally set the country alight. Frank, uncompromising, brutal and primal, it sets a world of disillusionment, violence, abuse and addiction amongst a slum of welfare state Maori. The themes however, translate to any who have lost their 'tribe' and fallen into the cycle of poverty and alcohol and resentment.

Powerful and moving, perhaps the best part is Duff's use of language - rough, vibrant
While this is certainly a powerful and revealing novel, I feel there's a danger of reinforcing negative stereotypes, especially since there's a sense that blame is being laid squarely on the Maori people themselves. There isn't much examination of structural inequalities and influences, and the message is one of self-help. I was fascinated by the links Duff makes between traditional Maori values and notions of warrior-hood and the way Jake views masculinity and his own self-worth, and I apprecia ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartrending. Tragic. Inspiring.

A must read for any segment of society hellbent on destroying itself. The frustration, anger and lethargy which grown out the perceived unfairness of the world can be crippling and this book serves as snap shot of one such lost community, eating itself alive because of the lopsided realities of life. I really think this book should be mandatory reading in the public schools back home, where a lot of the same anger, violence and self-destructive tendencies are cons
Jordan Teina
i chose to read this book because it fell under the category of a book written by a new zealander. my favourite quote was when Beth said to jake "Our people once were warriors. But unlike you, Jake, they were people with mana, pride, people with spirit. If my spirit can survive living with you for 18 years, Then I can survive anything cause living with you is like living in hell." something i learned from this book was really about the life some people have to live like in new zealand and how ha ...more
Vicki Wilson
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was severely disturbing to me. When the movie came out and was instantly pinned with awards I was quite sceptical as movies never really quite live up to the books. Seeing this book on screen disturbed me even more than the book. This is the rawest of raw written account on family violence and suicide that I have ever read and watched in my life. Bravo for both versions.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once were warriors is a very unique novel. It’s set in the year 1990 and portrays the lives of Maori people within a government residential area known as Pine Block. Specific focus is placed on the Heke family and the events that transpire over the course of a year. The people of Pine Block are portrayed in a very unflattering light. They’re all unemployed alcoholics who are prone to violence and neglect their children and families. This book garnered quite a bit of controversy when it was first ...more
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's taken me a long time to pluck up the courage to read this book and I will never watch the film. It is a strong yet simple story of a very disfunctional family. The characters leap off the page and into the news stories around us, so much so that it could be real and Duff has opened the doorway into another world for me. The prose style of writing takes a bit of getting used to, but so does the word of Two Pines and the Heke family.

I wanted to rage and cry about the choices they made when th
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books ever. A depiction of contemporary New Zealand life that tells it through poor, welfare-state Maoris struggling to rise above gang violence and alcoholism. Jake, Beth, and Grace are some of the most memorable characters ever written, and their stories will move you; Jake's, in particular, as the Maori warrior still poised to fight while struggling to live is one I still remember, even though it's been years since I first read it.

Check it out. Really worth it.
This is a brutal book. No punches are pulled in the descriptions of domestic violence, gang culture, acoholism, sexual abuse and suicide. It is a raw account of the erosion of cultual identity in the Maori community, and the attmepts of individuals to reconnect with their heritage. Duff's writing is excellent and immmediate, so that the violence of the characters lives never feels contrived for effect.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found that this book far outweighed the movie. It follows the same tale of the movie and its sequal 'what becomes of the broken hearted'. If you have yourself grown up in/around alcohol fueled domestic violence beware as this may open up wounds and basically rub salt in them but was still worth the journey in my opion. But if you liked the movie, definatly read this and even if you didn't like the movie you may enjoy this more detailed and heartfelt version.
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stream-of-consciousness style is not great, but the characters are vividly drawn. It is striking how poverty looks so similar all over the world. I've read similar work describing life on some Indian reservations and in some ways you could relocate the story and it would be the same. I found the ending to be a bit pie-in-the-sky, but the book was still worth the read.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book on the list "Best book from every country in the world". Well I do not know whether it is the best, or just it speaks about important topic in New Zealand. This book was hard, rough and at times emotionally challenging. It is about the Maori people, and hard life, domestic violence, sad childhoods and lost adults. Good book.
A Maori family with five children must deal with urban violence, poverty, drugs, alcoholism, unemployment, gang warfare, rape, physical and mental abuse, suicide, and a host of other horrific family problems, all depicted graphically.

A raw account of violence and how close to the edge a family lives.
Jan 29, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was awful. It was full of filth and had little underlying story. There are F-words on every page in multiple places. I had to read it for an English class, or I never would have read past the first page. I would never recommend this book to anyone.
Heather G Gentle
Powerful book. A little too intense for me to love it rather than being depressed by it. But also inspiring enough to be glad I picked this one up. My heart broke but also soared... a bit of a rollercoaster ride but well worth it!
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Raw, intense, brutal, kinda like being punched in the guts.... repeatedly. There's nothing pretty here, but that's its power.
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-zealand
Gripping story, raw and frank.
With the ending leaving the arcs of several characters hanging up in the air I almost dropped the rating down a star but I really enjoyed the overall impression enough to let the 4* stand, but take them as a low 4.
I meant to read this book for 10 years now, ever since my year in New Zealand this was the book to read and finally (!) I have picked up a copy. Once I realized I was confronted with a stream-of-consciousness-esque style I got worried, I am usually not a fan of such writing. But after
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This ain't James Cameron's New Zealand. Instead Once Were Warriors is a serious counterbalance to any Hollywood/Lord of the Rings/Footrot Flats view of NZ. It's warts and all, and Alan Duff deserves a knighthood for his raw account of regular life in NZ, far away from the red carpet movie premieres and the highlife of politicians' sons showing off their Instagram and so on. Dave Dobbin sung "Slice of Heaven" and Alan Duff provides us with a slice of NZ whether we want to look or not.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't dispute that this is a searing portrait of racism, squalor and brutality, but whereas some novels can use that as the setting for a gripping story, like Native Son or Tsotsi, this novel seemed largely satisfied to simply experience the squalor. (Though there are threads of optimism.) I can see the value in it if that's your thing, but it's not for me.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had to power through the second half of the book because I had difficulty reading the stream of consciousness slang and phonetics, and the dismal storyline full of excessive (unnecessary?) detail took a toll. It got the point across, but the style seemed to get in the way.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
An AMAZING novel. Gritty. Dark. Emotional and all those other buzzwords. But above all else, Once Were Warriors is REAL.

Set in 1980s Auckland, or more generally the North Island of New Zealand, the bulk of the story takes place in Pine Block, a Maori populated area that is rife with gang activity, drugs, alcoholism, neglect, laziness, abuse and death. It was apparently an accurate depiction of the Maoris on the 80s. But I also know that this novel was highly controversial upon its release and m
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The Armchair Trav...: * Once Were Warriors * discussion 25 15 Oct 23, 2015 10:35PM  
  • Potiki
  • In My Father's Den
  • The Whale Rider
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  • The Penguin History of New Zealand
  • Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story
  • An Angel at my Table (Autobiography, #1-3)
  • The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook
  • Leaves of the Banyan Tree
  • As the Earth Turns Silver
  • A Good Keen Man
  • Season Of The Jew (New Zealand Wars, #1)
  • Magpie Hall
Alan Duff (born October 26, 1950, Rotorua, New Zealand) is a New Zealand novelist and newspaper columnist, most well known as the author of Once Were Warriors. He began to write full-time in 1985.

He tried writing a thriller as his first novel, but it was rejected. He burned the manuscript and started writing Once Were Warriors, which had an immediate and great impact. The novel is written in juxta
More about Alan Duff...

Other Books in the Series

Once were warriors trilogy (3 books)
  • What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (Once Were Warriors, #2)
  • Jake's Long Shadow (Once Were Warriors, #3)

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“Our people once were warriors. But unlike you, Jake, they were people with mana, pride; people with spirit. If my spirit can survive living with you for eighteen years, then I can survive anything.” 4 likes
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