Jessie Mackay, 1864–1938


  • Jane Stafford



Jessie Mackay, often referred to as New Zealand’s first native born poet, was a central voice in the ‘Māoriland’ school of late colonial writers, whose sense of a distinctly local literature was characterised by use of Māori mythological and legendary material. Mackay was born in Rakaia, Canterbury, in the South Island of New Zealand in 1864. Her parents were Scottish immigrants from the Highlands, and her early education was imbued with a sense of Scottish literature and history, often of dispossession. The eldest of a large family of girls, she went to Christchurch to train as a pupil teacher, and taught at small rural schools until 1898 when she moved to Dunedin. There she began her career as a journalist, which she continued in some form or another for the rest of her life, the only break being a brief return to teaching occasioned by a financial crisis in her family. In 1902 she returned to Christchurch and set up house with her sister Georgina, with whom she lived until her death.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Jane Stafford