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Auntie Rita. The classic memoir of an Aboriginal woman's love and determination

Auntie Rita is a revised edition of the bestselling and award-winning memoir of Aboriginal woman Rita Huggins, first published in 1994. Rita battled dispossession, poverty, personal tragedy, and racism to create a rich, meaningful life lived out during the momentous changes of the 20th century. 

'Most people call me Auntie Rita, whites as well as Aboriginal people. Auntie is a term of respect for our older woman folk. You don't have to be blood-related or anything. Everyone is kin. That's a beautiful thing because, in this way, no one is ever truly alone. They always have someone they can turn to.' 

Rita Huggins was born on Bidjara/Bidyara country at Carnarvon Gorge in central Queensland. As a child in the 1920s, she met white men for the first time: troopers who forced her family into cattle trucks and drove them south to Barambah, later Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve. At Cherbourg, 'we had to stay in one place now, while the white men could roam free.' 

Jackie Huggins, book signing, Auntie Rita at the Wiyi Yani U Thangani summit.

There were some happy times, but work was the only way out of Cherbourg for First Nations people. Rita worked as a housekeeper all over Queensland before meeting and marrying Jack Huggins. After Jack's untimely death, Rita struggled with grief, and the challenges of being a single parent to three young children and caring for extended family and community. As the 1960s unfolded, Rita watched the rise of First Nations activism - the 1967 Referendum, the Freedom Rides, and new Aboriginal political organisations - and knew she wanted to make something better for herself, her family, and all Indigenous people. She joined Queensland's One People of Australia League and was active until her death in 1996. 

In the revised edition of Auntie Rita, Rita's words - interspersed with reflections from her daughter Jackie - reveal a life shaped by personal tragedy, the dramatic changes of the twentieth century and emotional resilience. Readers worldwide have enjoyed this moving memoir since it was first published in 1994 and will enjoy reading this revised edition just as much. 

Aboriginal Studies Press is the publishing arm of AIATSIS. 

Auntie Rita, by Rita Huggins & Jackie Huggins, is released on 1 May 2023 and will be available in all bookstores. It is also available now for pre-ordering at: Auntie Rita 

Production details

230mm x 150mm
Released May 2023
ISBN 978-0-85575-112-8

Media enquiries: or SMS to 0476 843 52 


Last updated: 14 November 2023