Once Were Warriors is the story about a Maori family struggling to survive in a New Zealand that is governed by Whites. The film explores the search for identity by contemporary Maoris, such as warrior violence juxtaposed to a culture stripped of its pride and honour. .
Classical theorist Max Weber described ethnic groups as "Those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or of both or because of memories of colonization or migration." (Guibernau. M & Rex. J, 1997 [Weber 1968, p. 389] p. 2).
From this classification it can be concluded that the movie Once Were Warriors is a movie that depicts themes and discourses that relate specifically to ethnic theory in relation to New Zealand Maoris. This is because the movie deals with the issues of the Maoris in relation to belief in their common descent "Our people once were warriors", similarities of physical type or of customs "why is everything so black tonight, Toot?" "Dunno, maybe "cause we"re both bloody Maoris" and the memories of white colonization due to the white-dominated society they live in. .
Once Were Warriors would be aimed at viewers aged eighteen years and older, due to the "R" rating and the adult themes such as violence and rape that are depicted. .
Like Australia, New Zealand has a despotic history. As a result, the indigenous Maoris were oppressed, and ramifications such as continued disadvantage and poverty still exist in Maori communities. This poverty and disadvantage in turn relates to alcoholism, depression and domestic violence in these communities. Once Were Warriors is therefore specifically directed to a New Zealand audience, who would have background knowledge of these themes and issues such as racism in contemporary New Zealand. Even more specifically, the movie is targeted toward New Zealand Maoris, who are often marginalized and whose issues are often overlooked in the mass media.