Auē by Becky Manawatu

ISBN 978-0-9951110-2-8
August 2019
Trade paperback, 328pp
$35

Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to a violent home.

But Ārama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.

Here is a novel that is both raw and sublime, a compelling new voice in New Zealand fiction. Haere mai, Becky Manawatu.

Longlisted for the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

“The best book of 2019 – and it really is immense, a deep and powerful work, maybe even the most successfully achieved portrayal of underclass New Zealand life since Once Were Warriors“— Steve Braunias (read the full article here)

“In the meantime, while we await the announcement, might I direct you to Auē, the first novel by Westport journalist Becky Manawatu. It hasn’t had a lot of attention yet, certainly no prizes, but holy shit, it should. (We’ve a review in the works). It reminds me of The Bone People and of Once Were Warriors. The writing has a wild, intuitive sort of magic.”
—Catherine Woulfe
(read the full essay here)

“Auē is not just the story of two boys, it is the story of a family, people who are born into it and those who become part of it. We travel through past and present, lives come together and are held together by strands of pain, cruelty, hardship, brutality, music and love. Throughout is the image of birds, some broken and battered, some who manage to fly. Some who sing. The writer knows exactly what she’s doing and takes us with her. I could not stop reading.” —Renée

Read Becky’s essay about the violence and gang culture she drew on to write Auē here


Becky Manawatu (Ngāi Tahu) was born in Nelson, raised in Waimangaroa and has returned there to live with her family, working as a reporter for The News in Westport. Becky’s short story ‘Abalone’ was long-listed for the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, her essay ‘Mothers Day’ has been selected for the Landfall anthology Strong Words. Auē is her first novel.