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Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872–1914

2. The Bright Unstoried Waters: Jessie Mackay

page 57

2. The Bright Unstoried Waters: Jessie Mackay

Sir John Mckenzie, prominent Liberal party politician, baleful member of the House of Representatives, and Minister of the Crown, died in 1901, five weeks after being knighted by the visiting Duke of Cornwall and York, the future George V. Weak from terminal cancer, McKenzie had been unable to travel, and the duke and duchess's train had been halted at Heathfield in Otago, outside his farmhouse, where the ceremony took place. His funeral was a dramatic occasion, with pipers playing 'The Flower of the Forest', as befitted his Highland ancestry. Born in 1839 in Croik in eastern Ross-shire, McKenzie, a Gaelic speaker, never forgot the evictions of his childhood, and brought to his career in New Zealand — he emigrated in 1860 — a radicalism, a concern for the smallholder, and an antagonism to large estates and land speculation that was a product of that past. (He compared the speculators of Auckland to the evicting landlords of his childhood.)

Settler societies necessarily have an ambivalent attitude towards history and modernity. Stephen Turner has written of 'settlement as forgetting', a process which involves a number of contradictory impulses:

The new country is a site of contradictory demands: the need, ultimately, to forget the old country, and the need to ignore people who already inhabit the new country. To resist the indigenous presence the settler must retain some sense of the old-country self to be able to draw on a strong and authoritative identity. But in order to settle in the new country, to find oneself at home, the settler must forget the old country and become acclimatised, that is, discover a new-country identity.1

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Forgetting, acclimatisation and discovery — these were central to the task of the writers of the Maoriland period. A generation after first settlement, their writing provided a means by which the achievements and conflicts of the emerging colony could be presented — to itself, and to the world. Jessie Mackay, born in the Rakaia Gorge in 1864 to Scottish immigrant parents, wrote a lament for McKenzie, which works through this process. The poem, which appears in her 1904 book, From the Maori Sea, begins without any concessions to the Antipodean location. This is the burial of a highland chieftain, and even the weather is Scottish:

They played him home to the House of Stones,
All the way, all the way, To his grave in the sound of the winter sea.
The sky was dour, the sky was gray.
They played him home with the chieftain's dirge
Til the wail was wed to the rolling surge!
They played him home with a sorrowful will
To his grave at the foot of the Holy Hill;
And the pipes went mourning all the way.2

Behind the conventional rhetoric of mourning — 'the dark of the earth', 'the veiled dawn', 'the house of woe' — and the recognition of the private griefs of '[s]on and brother and near of kin' and 'her / Who stayed within, the dowie day', wider claims are being advanced. McKenzie's are '[s]trong hands that struck for right' and he is being carried by '[s]trong hands that struck with his'. His chieftainship is a literary conceit, but appropriate to a new place; old forms are not discarded, they are rewritten. The 'clan' of which he is chief — '[a] wider clan than ever he knew' — is an imaginary rather than actual community. The term 'clan' is a metaphor conveying reassurance, locating the present in a romanticised past, coopting the terms of a premodern community to make sense of a new kind of society:

The clan went on with the pipes before
All the way, all the way;
A wider clan than ever he knew
Followed him home that dowie day.
And who were they of the wider clan? —
page 59 The landless man and the No Man's man,
The man that lacked and the man unlearned,
The man that lived but as he earned;
And the clan went mourning all the way.

Only in the final stanza is the physical location of McKenzie's clan revealed to be New Zealand, although alert readers may have noticed that the 'Holy Hill' where he is buried is a translation of the Maori, 'Puketapu', the location of a cairn erected in his memory.3 Having characterised him in archaic terms, Mackay now turns to McKenzie's new role as colonist:

He found her [New Zealand] a land of many domains,
Maiden forest and fallow plains:
He left her a land of many homes, —
The pearl of the world, where the sea wind roams …

Mackay's language here serves Turner's argument that one of the requirements of settlement is the ability to ignore the land's indigenous occupants, but does so with more complexity than he allows. The phrase 'many domains' covertly refers to the authority of another kind of chieftainship, that of Maori; but '[m]aiden forest' and 'fallow plains' evoke an empty and untouched land. There is thus an implicit separation of the indigenous inhabitants from the land they inhabit; despite its 'many domains', the land is found by the immigrants to be 'maiden' and 'fallow'. The transition from 'many domains' to 'a land of many homes' suggests the unifying power of settlement as well as the domesticisation of empire, whereby the values of the Victorian patriarchal family are sent abroad to civilise and harmonise the world.4

The irony of this last verse — indeed, the irony of McKenzie's apotheosis as Highland laird and benefactor — was his role as Minister of Lands in the 1890s in facilitating the sale of land still in Maori ownership. The establishment of a complex bureaucracy including the Validation Court and the Native Appellate Court (together with the winding up of the Native Department) saw the purchase of some 2,729,000 acres of Maori land by the government between 1892 and the year of McKenzie's death, with a further 423,184 bought on the open market.5 In Mackay's poem this process of land alienation is figured page 60in a trope of progress and enlightenment, from emptiness to use, from fractured multiplicity to civil home and hearth. The Highland home is not lost, but is reconfigured in New Zealand, with its traditional relationships reinvented for late colonial society. McKenzie was, as was Mackay, liberal and progressive by the standards of his time, hence his concern for the 'landless man' and 'the No Man's man'. But these images of dispossession are confined to settler society and are figured in terms of a parallel with the place of origin. The dispossessed Maori is not an image that this poem can deal with. The mythologised Highland past, those dispossessions and injustices, take precedence, and are reworked so that they become appropriate in the new setting.

Maoriland writing does not support Belich's contention that emigration subsumed regional affiliations into an overarching 'Britishness'.6 Mackay's Celticism complicated her relationship to colonial society, to the imperial centre, and to the problems of race and land. By the late nineteenth century the fear aroused by the military engagements of the mid-century had changed into a condition of manufactured distance which required specific strategies of literary accommodation. Mackay effaces Maori dispossession in her elegy for McKenzie. She focuses here on the injustices within Pakeha society, and uses the language of her Highland background to do so. Yet her writing at large does not display a unitary or consistent position on the race question. Her radical politics entail an awareness of, and sympathy for, Maori grievances, but she needs different literary modes to figure these.

On the fifth of November, 1881, an unusual colonial military engagement took place in Taranaki on the west coast of the North Island. Shortly after dawn, an expeditionary force of constabulary and volunteers totalling over 2000 men, headed by the Native Minister, John Bryce, advanced across the fields towards the Maori settlement of Parihaka. No bugle signals marked the attack, which was meant to be a surprise. On reaching the outskirts of the village, the soldiers were faced with their first sign of resistance: two hundred small children, singing, and spinning tops, backed by a battalion of older girls skipping, blocked their way. No aggression was offered, although some of the children took off their flax cloaks and shook them at the horses which shied, and page 61when an officer, Colonel Messenger, grasped one of the skipping ropes, he suffered rope burn. A gap was made in the flank, effected chiefly by the colonel's lifting one of the young women and carrying her to the side of the road, to the amusement of his troops, who then made their way to the centre of the village. There they found 2500 adults who had been sitting waiting for the attack since the previous evening. The Maori sat in silence, while the Riot Act was read and, when a warning was given of dire consequences if they did not leave within an hour, they reacted impassively: 'The Native Minister might as well have read a chapter from Revelations or his address to his Wanganui constituents,' observed the Echo reporter.7

The leaders of Parihaka, Te Whiti and Tohu, both wearing elaborate korowai cloaks, were identified and arrested. 'This day's work is not my doing,' Te Whiti told his followers as he was led away: 'It comes from the heart of the pakeha. On my fall the pakeha builds his work: but be you steadfast in all that is peaceful.' His associate Tohu reiterated the peaceful intent of the event: 'We look for peace and we find war. Be steadfast, keep to peaceful works, be not dismayed: have no fear.' As he left, Te Whiti turned and said, 'Let your dwelling be good in this place oh my tribe, until works such as this are frustrated.'8 The two men, accompanied by their wives and nieces, were taken by gig to the Pungarehu blockhouse. Such was their chiefly authority that the soldiers acquieced to their request that Hiroki, a Maori wanted by the authorities for the murder of a surveyor three years previously, not be put in same carriage. The crowd continued to sit on the marae until nightfall.

In recording the events of the day, a variety of literary styles were called upon, all of them necessarily improvisational. Te Whiti and Tohu's philosophy of pacifist resistance to land alienation was expressed in the cadences of the King James' version of the Old Testament.9 Native Minister, Bryce, attempted strenuously but without success to produce and enforce his own narrative by confining it to one official, terse telegram. Colonial newspapers were vigorously iconoclastic and partisan, and reporters were specifically banned from accompanying the volunteers, but a small group foiled the prohibition by waking even earlier than the troops and walking across country to Parihaka, where they were welcomed by the inhabitants and given a ringside seat: 'the concealed newspapermen could have touched [the troops] with a page 62stick.'10 It was they who recorded the words of Te Whiti and Tohu as they were led away.

On the soldiers' side, narratives of heroism and empire were being written even as the events unfolded: many of the soldiers wrote letters and diary entries as they prepared to advance, mainly in a grimly testamentary style and, afterwards, in more expansive expressions of relief and self-justification. The historian, Dick Scott, observes that 'scratching pens in storm-bound tents must have made a fearful din through the village'.11 Expectations of resistance had been high, intensified by memory of the Taranaki campaigns of the 1870s, where entirely unpacifist leader Titokowaru had humiliated the British army. 'I felt rather queer when I saw the doctors and their assistants opening up the stretchers and sharpening their knives and getting all their tools ready,' confessed Corporal William Parker of Marton.12 Retrospect brought a more metaphorical, abstract form of locution. Captain Newall wrote:

The light must not only linger on the mountain top but be let in to the shady gullies and deepest recesses of our present surroundings from which for years has issued the oracular voice of one crying in the wilderness in tones too significant for future trouble to be lightly set aside, a voice which has so long kept back the progress of the Colony, drained its resources, strangled its credit, made weak the heart of many of our stalwart settlers, banished their feelings of security from their doors and tried to the utmost verge of endurance the patience of all classes of an industrious and hopeful people.

This light however is not the metaphor of the poet but the light which follows the clearing of a way through the forest, the macadamized road instead of the tortuous and rugged track, in other words the Queen's highway from which the traveller may hear the ring of the woodsman's axe and his eye brighten as it surveys on either side green pastures and happy homesteads.13

These metaphors — of darkness and light, ancient and modern, Maori and settler, the primeval native forest versus clearance and progress — are standard in the literature of colonial justification, but the strangeness of the events at Parihaka has had an unsettling effect on the way they are employed. Newall's use of biblical language is oddly misapplied, page 63as the 'voice crying in the wilderness' is that of Te Whiti, and must be disregarded. He seems, moreover, to be insisting on the reality of his rhetoric, denying its status as mere metaphor, when he says, 'This light… is not the metaphor of the poet.' His binary model forces him to misrepresent the nature of Te Whiti and Parihaka, seeing them as primitives in a primeval setting. Te Whiti, however, was by no means an archaising pastoralist; indeed, a notable feature of Maori society was the speed and efficiency with which it appropriated European forms. Parihaka had electricity and modern Victorian villas as well as raupo huts. Its fields were meticulously cultivated. Its use of diamond and spade patterns in its carving alongside more traditional forms showed openness to innovation and European culture, most obviously present in its consciously adaptive and creative amalgam of Christianity and Maori spirituality.14 It was the Maori resistance to land confiscation, presaged by land surveyors, that produced the panic of the fifth of November 1881, a panic provoked not by armed resistance but by a campaign of ploughing and fencing across Pakeha land, survey lines, and the new roads that came with them. Captain Newall boasted, 'We destroyed kumara beds, taro, tobacco etc etc, in fact everything growing.'15 Three weeks later the whole settlement was empty and in ruins.

Empire has its ceremonies, but they are most confidently enacted at the imperial centre. Enacted in colonial settler societies, these ceremonies, far from inspiring awe, risk the ridiculous, mixing the pompous with the carnivalesque. While Bryce articulated his civilising mission, the reporters of the Star, the Echo, and the Lyttelton Times compared him to Don Quixote. And his heroic narrative was satirically played back in the local press in Jessie Mackay's version of Tennyson's 'Charge of the Light Brigade', which highlights a number of the crucial differences between Parihaka and the Crimea:

Yet a league, yet a league,
Yet a league onward,
Straight to the Maori pah
Marched the Twelve Hundred.
'Forward the Volunteers!
Is there a man who fears?'
Over the ferny plain
Marched the Twelve Hundred.
page 64 'Forward!' the Colonel said:
Was there a man dismayed?
No, for the heroes knew
There was no danger.
Theirs not to reckon why,
Theirs not to bleed or die,
Theirs but to trample by,
Each dauntless ranger.

This poem was published in a newspaper soon after the event and also in Mackay's first book of poems, The Spirit of the Rangatira and other Ballads, published in 1889.16 Her use of the Tennysonian model was perhaps partly inspired by the fact that Major Noake, who trained the Taranaki volunteers, was a veteran of the charge of the Light Brigade, but her choice of the poet-laureate, the official voice of empire celebrating one of military history's most iconic occasions, is not fortuitous. Heroism of this kind, she is suggesting, does not travel to settler society without becoming ridiculous. Tennyson's poem alters its meaning when read in Taranaki. Someone may have blundered at the Crimea, but this does not detract, in Tennyson's poem, from the courage of the soldiers. At Parihaka, everyone has blundered and, in Mackay's account, looks not only savage and vindictive but also comic and foolish:

Pressmen to right of them,
Pressmen to left of them,
Pressmen in front of them,
Chuckled and wondered.
Dreading their country's eyes,
Long was the search and wise;
Vain, for the pressman five
Had, by a slight device,
Foiled the Twelve Hundred.

Gleamed all their muskets bare,
Fright'ning the children there;
Heroes to do and dare,
Charging a village, while
Maoridom wondered.
page 65 Plunged in potato fields,
Honour to hunger yields,
Te Whiti and Tohu,
Bearing not swords nor shields,
Questioned nor wondered,
Calmly before them sat,
Faced the Twelve Hundred.

Children to right of them,
Children to left of them,
Women in front of them,
Saw them and wondered.
Stormed at with jeer and groan,
Foiled by the five alone,
Never was trumpet blown
O'er such a deed of arms.
Back with their captives three,
Taken so gallantly,
Rode the Twelve Hundred.

When can their glory fade?!
Oh! the wild charge they made!
New Zealand wondered
Whether each doughty soul
Paid for the pigs he stole,
Noble Twelve Hundred!

Mackay's account is factually accurate. Presumably, she is following newspaper reports, hence the heroic role she gives to the reporters present ('the five alone'). Her account is informed by the radical liberalism of her Scottish background, with its sympathy for the victims of dispossession, and marked by the complicating effect this has on her position as, technically, one of the colonisers. As in 'The Burial of Sir John McKenzie', she is adapting a prior form to a new occasion, but her focus here is strictly satirical. She is not able, any more than are the soldiers present, to write an appropriate text for the occasion. She merely demonstrates the effect of playing it against the wrong text.

As the accounts of Parihaka show, literary rhetorics do not travel page 66unchanged, and Victorian Romanticism has to adapt to gain purchase in the new place. Mackay puts the problem this way in 'Phantom Ford':

Read me the Rune, for I faint with the mystery, —
Rune of the mountain-world, subtle and pure,
In the young land that has Love but for history;
Crested with snow and sedate and secure.
Not a man's life has she measured as yet:
Wide is she, clear of the smoke and the fret.17

'Rune', with its Celtic connotations, is the unknowable code of the 'mountain-world', 'the young land' without history or inhabitants that the poet seeks to read. The beauty of the landscape is, in the Romantic way, morally charged, and is contrasted with the old world of industrialisation and modernity, 'the smoke and the fret'. This world, the poem claims, has no inhabitants, no history. The poet's task in deciphering the code, reading the rune, writing in a place without precedents for such an undertaking, is a forbidding one. Mackay's contemporary, the poet Arthur Adams, complains:

Here, aloof, I take my stand —
Alien, iconoclast —
Poet of a newer land,
Confident, aggressive, lonely,
Product of the present only
Thinking nothing of the past.18

Colonial writers find realism difficult, not because the landscape is alien, but because it is only tenuously real. Terry Eagleton writes that 'on the colonial edges the world is less easy to totalise in classical realist fashion, precisely because some of its central determinants lie elusively elsewhere, in the metropolitan country'.19 When Thomas Bracken begins a poem celebrating the opening of a theatre on the east coast of the South Island,

Welcome, Thalia and Melpomene
Unto this fair White City by the sea!
Behold! Apollo here has found a shrine …20

page 67 and looks back to the time when Mother Nature 'mourn'd awhile, 'tis true, / When Art was homeless here in Timaru', the effort required to maintain the dignity of the verse is obvious. Conventions reveal themselves as such. What you see around you is empty, or palpably invented. Hence the pomposity and artifice of colonial social forms, the attraction of satire and pastiche over more realist modes of representation. Colonial writers can easily characterise the ridiculous; the substantial requires something more complex and particular.

Mackay's parents had been crofters in the northern Highlands. Her contemporary, the poet Thomas Bracken, was an orphan from County Meath who migrated to Australia as a child, then moved to New Zealand. To such writers, 'Home' and 'empire' are ambiguous terms that involve not just imperial power or colonial endeavour but also dispossession and exile. If the term 'British' was a contested one in nineteenth-century Britain, it was far more so in the colonies, where 'Home' — which includes Ireland or Scotland — becomes both more particularised and more mythicised as the physical reality it signifies fades. Local identifications and attachments are transmuted into a self-consciously artificial source of productive discomfort. Existing literary forms must be reconfigured. A sophisticated reader as well as writer, Mackay looks to her Celtic background and, in particular, to the political and literary Celticism of nineteenth-century Scotland and Ireland, as a template for the emerging literary nationalism of Maoriland. Despite her Scottish and Presbyterian background, Irish history and contemporary Irish politics were an important aspect of this construction. Mackay was known as a champion of Irish independence:

The common Celtic bond of race, and damsel-errantry in bud, had made Ireland's wrong my wrong ever since a chance ballad — 'Mary Le More' — fired me in childhood. Prose as firey as its implications had been a magnet to me, and it was a labour of love to translate Irish history into New Zealand journalism for whomsoever cared to read.21

Common interests between Ireland and New Zealand on such matters as land reform, national autonomy and imperial federation were frequently argued, and were given force by a commonly held analogy between the Maori and the ancient Irish.22 Henry George's Progress and page 68Poverty (1879) compared systems of land tenure in both societies, and the Irish nationalist press compared Te Whiti to the Land League organiser, Michael Davitt, who conducted a lecture tour of New Zealand in 1895.23 The self-government which the British settler colonies had achieved by the late nineteenth century was often held up as an example of how the Irish question should be resolved.24

But Bracken left Ireland as a child; Mackay visited Scotland and Ireland only once when she was nearly sixty. Both are aware of the invented nature of place, whether that place be the Highlands or Hokitika. Both allow language to concede its inadequacies. In 'The Ancient People' Mackay writes of her Celtic past in terms that are overtly archaic and unwieldy:

Lo and lo mine ancient people!
Cairn and cromlech hold them sleeping; —
Mine though the world divide!25

This poem contends with a past that is irretrievable — 'They who went, returning never / From the battle in the West!' — and a present location, New Zealand, which is as yet without historical narrative:

So the dreamy passion gathers,
By the bright unstoried waters
Where found their children room.

The poem ends not with nostalgia — Mackay is a New Zealand writer — but with the problem of belonging to a world as yet 'unstoried'.26 The stories belong to the European past, as do the literary conventions which convey them: romance, ballad, fairytale. 'The Other House' speaks of

The Other House of play,
Of book and rose and game
All in a garden gay
Where sorrow never came …

as a location now lost:
page 69

Now it shall ever be
The Other House of Death
And Dreams and Memory.27

It is a location which, as 'The Valley of Rona' puts it, is beautiful but unobtainable and, finally, fixed and unproductive:

Not a daisy can pass;
Not a blade of the grass;
Not a bird ever dies,
Nor outward it flies
From Rona the charmed and the olden.28

'[T]he charmed and the olden' are desirable but unusable. The 'trick of standing upright', which Allen Curnow later warily looks forward to, is here to be achieved by acknowledging the loss of this literary past and by infiltrating or recasting its forms. The New Zealand content of Maoriland is not here, as its modernist and its postcolonial critics have claimed, merely decorative; it is palpably disquieting freight. In Mackay's best known poem, 'Rona in the Moon', the fairy tale setting is a completely literary construction apart from two details — the gourd in which Rona is fetching water, and the ngaio tree to which she clings as the moon draws her up:

But from the earth the ngaio parted
Like a bitter thread;
Like a comet upward darted
Rona overhead.

In the moon is Rona sitting,
Never to be free;
With the gourd she held in flitting,
And the ngaio tree.29

The name 'Rona' has vague but not insistent Scottish overtones, but the gourd and the ngaio are of New Zealand. Holding tightly onto the symbols of the local, Rona is hoisted into the literary, and thereby changes it irrevocably.

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In 'The Call of the Upland Yule', the local landscape is described: 'the river-bed track', 'the sister lakes', the toi, the kea, 'And, bronze and gray, the bluffs array / Shoulder to burly shoulder'. Far from being merely decorative, this language provides the poem's backbone, upsetting the traditional expectations of the Scottish term 'Yule'. The poet is aware that she cannot give it a conventional literary treatment: the literary language of the old world is not appropriate, in the same way that the Antipodean Christmas resists tradition:

(Tower not turret pleases you,
Nor grove o' the white May-thorn,
When comes the call of the upland Yule
To the blood of the mountain-born)!30

'Tower', 'turret' and 'white May-thorn' are here used to illustrate the often-observed problem that in the colonial situation words and their traditional denotations drift apart. By 1904, when the poem was written, English or Irish writers using words like 'tower' or 'turret' (Yeats, for example) were aware of the archaic tone, but could use such language self-consciously to lay claim to a particular sense of the past. Mackay makes the difficulty explicit in a way Yeats does not have to. Towers and turrets, for Mackay (and for others of 'the blood of the mountain born', that is, New Zealanders), are not located in physical space, or even in history, but in a kind of literary language which, as a New Zealand writer, she feels she cannot employ without acknowledging the problem.

Yeats was writing in terms of the agenda of the Irish Revival. Writers like Mackay were not unaware of the uses of such invented pasts in the local situation. Nineteenth-century Celticism created a past of heroic grandeur as a means by which a tawdry present could be infused with nationalist purpose. New Zealand writers like Mackay adapted the movement to the local setting, although this involved a certain amount of strategic rewriting. Celticism favours a past beyond historical record; Maoriland writers see physical distance, regional identifications, and nascent nationalism as interrupting the sense of historical continuity with a British past. That past can now be configured chiefly in terms of loss: 'Here's to the home that was never, never ours,'31 writes Mackay. Instead, they either figure the land as empty and ahistoric — 'a land that page 71has Love but for history'; or they take the Maori past as their own, seeing it, as the term 'Maoriland' suggests, as that which makes New Zealand distinctive in terms of other imperial settler societies, and especially Australia. The New Zealand Illustrated Magazine in 1901 stated:

… here in New Zealand we have infinite advantages over Australia in the way of material for … a national literature. Our country has a history; Australia has none — at any rate none that can equal our own in all those stirring elements which invest the past with a halo of romance, and make food for the poet, painter, and the novelist.32

The sources for the manufacturing of this past were works of local ethnology such as Maning's Old New Zealand and Grey's Polynesian Mythology, but its tone and inflexion came from the texts of Irish and Scottish Celticism. Matthew Arnold's The Study of Celtic Literature (1867), Ernest Renan's Le Poesie des Races Celtiques (1860), and Standish O'Grady's History of Ireland (1878) had set out a theoretical and scholarly basis for the celebration of Celtic culture. But its literary manifestations, especially James Macpherson's Ossian forgeries, were just as important for the development of an inauthentically authentic poetic that spread far beyond the mists of the Celtic fringe.

Ossian answered the need of colonial writers to find a mode in which the colonised could be represented. An ethnographic interest in the authentic voice of the primitive was readily combined with the elegiac tones of Ossian, geographically and historically remote from the centre and the present. In nineteenth-century America, 'James Fenimore Cooper gave his Indians Ossianic traits and had them speak an Ossianic language. Longfellow, Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman were affected by it'.33 In New Zealand, the aestheticised, sentimentalised picture of the Celt was adapted by writers like Mackay to perform a number of functions in the literature of Maoriland. While Scottish and Irish authors saw Ossianic literature as a way to express their own cultural and material dispossession and celebrate a lost past, American and colonial writers were more likely to use Ossian as the voice of the other, the colonised, and by doing so perform an act not just of appropriation but also of identification and ownership. Mackay uses both modes. In poems such as 'The Burial of Sir John McKenzie', 'Strathnaver no page 72more'34 or 'Strath Erran',35 she nostalgically celebrates and knowingly adapts traditional forms to produce a literature of emigration and dispossession. In poems such as 'The Spirit of the Rangatira',36 'Maori War Song'37 or 'The Taniwha's Farewell',38 she confers Celtic status on the new country's indigenous inhabitants, and Maori warriors become Ossian, Cuchulain, or Balder.39

A child of the Scottish Enlightenment by way of her parents' radicalism and her education, Mackay's writing exemplifies that strain of Celticism which Luke Gibbons characterises as sympathy.40 A product of the cult of sensibility articulated by David Hume and Adam Smith at the end of the eighteenth century, sympathy emphasises not just feeling, but fellow feeling. Its relevance to Scottish society was spelt out by Mackay's contemporary Sophie Bryant in her 1913 work, The Genius of the Gael: A Study in Celtic Psychology and its Manifestations,41 in terms of the deprivation and loss of autonomy that modernity entailed — 'the continual presence of another within one's own sphere of existence'.42 Set in the colonial context, sympathy is the bridge between Mackay's awareness of the depredations of her own history and the position of Maori. It manifests itself as a literary tone that enables her to write about the latter in terms of the former, to construct a kind of literary identification without recourse to evasion or satire. The characteristics of the Celt, as set out by such authorities as Arnold or Renan, were easily transferable to Maori. Spirituality, an instinctive knowledge of and closeness to the natural world, lyricism, a mannered heroism and warrior ethic, essentialist conceptions of gender, a glamorous despair — all were sustained by notions of Romantic primitivism and authenticity:

Tiraha, Te Ra!
I am Maui, —
Maui the bantling, the darling; —
Maui the fire-thief, the jester; —
Maui the world's fisherman!
I am Maui, man's champion!
Thou art the Sun-God,
Te Ra of the flaming hair.
Heretofore man is thy moth.
What is the life of man,
page 73 Bound to thy rushing wings,
Thou fire-bird of Rangi?
A birth in a burning;
A flash and a war-word;
A failing, a falling
Of ash to the ashes
Of bottomless Po!
I am Maui, —
The great one, the little one, —
A bird that could nest
In the hand of a woman.
I — I have vanquished
The Timeless, the Ancients.
The heavens cannot bind me,
But I shall bind thee,
Tiraha, Te Ra!43

Certain adjustments, it is true, have to be made in adapting the Celt to the Maori. Scottish and Irish Celticists celebrated the heroes of a past to which, however spuriously conjured up and however spuriously owned, they could lay historical claim. Maoriland writers had to write in terms of a claim that was obviously, logically untrue, and acknowledged as untrue by the writers themselves. Bracken's poem 'The March of Te Rauparaha' says as much:

Rauparaha's war chant
Rauparaha's fame song,
Rauparaha's story
Told on the harp strings,
Pakeha harp cords
Tuned by the stranger.44

There is a strange tone here. In its chant-like repetition, Bracken's poem is suggesting that it possesses ethnographic authenticity, the authority of the 'primitive' voice; but the speaker is avowedly Pakeha, and his tone is elegiac, expressing regret for the necessity of the appropriation, even as it is taking place.

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For Celtic movements such as the Irish Revival, the existence of the peasant in contemporary society was a sign of continuity with the past, though a past that was carefully purpose built. Seamus Deane points out that 'much of what Yeats believed about the Irish peasantry, its past and its native literature, was formed by the literature produced by the more cultivated sections of the nineteenth-century landlord class'. As George Watson observes, 'The Celt was invented to serve the purposes of the urban intellectuals.'46 Attempting 'to reconcile on the level of myth what could not be reconciled on the level of politics' was, Deane claims, a failure, which offered the Irish 'the opportunity to be unique but refused them the right to be independent on the grounds that independence would lead to a loss of their uniqueness'.46 The parallels with the Maoriland writers are pervasive. Maori exist in Maoriland writing only as the assumed and artificial voice deployed by the Pakeha author. For that literature to acknowledge the existence of actual, present-day Maori would jeopardise Pakeha ownership of the Maori past. By the turn of the century, conventional wisdom, supported by scientific ethnology, had decided that the Maori were rapidly becoming extinct, and the task of the Pakeha was, in an ubiquitous expression of the time, to 'smooth the pillow of the dying race'.47 The old Maori woman in Blanche Baughan's story 'Pipi on the Prowl' may come from 'a princely race',48 but she is now comic, roguish and negligible. Her heroic, mythic past is thus seen as being available to the Pakeha writer because it had no present-day owners.

This literary extinction is aestheticised and sentimentalised, as in Mackay's poem 'Te Whenua Kura':

Lost, lost, lost, lost,
Lost is Te Whenua Kura,
The curse is hurled,
The blood is shed,
And vain as mist the flowing!
The robber stays,
And I and mine
Like summer snow are going.49

Homi Bhabha's theory of colonial mimicry, where the colonised ape the coloniser,50 is here reversed. The coloniser adopts the voice of the page 75dispossessed, expressing regret and lamentation for that dispossession, while insisting on its inevitability as it becomes embedded in the language of myth. Ghostly presences are a feature of the Maoriland landscape, as the Maori are simultaneously acknowledged and denied.51

Yeats's resort to myth is in part a method of writing himself into the Irish context. An Anglo-Irishman from a Protestant background, he has to displace the native religion from his narrative of Irish history because it excludes him. Maoriland writers have to displace race for similar reasons. Yeats's claim to affinity with the ancient Irish is factually dubious, but just tenable. For Maoriland writers, the association cannot be logically upheld; they are obviously, palpably not Maori. They 'own' these stories by right of colonial conquest, a fact of which Mackay is not unaware. Their right to the stories must be inferred: by absence (the Pakeha writer being the spokesperson for the now extinct Maori); by analogy; by association; by the power of sympathy; and by the fact that both ancient Maori and Pakeha settler inhabit the same natural settings. By being sensible to the Romantic sublime and by exhibiting respect for and sensitivity to landscape, the Maoriland writer claims that landscape's human inhabitants as literary ancestors. Mackay writing of the Southern Alps says:

… a dark gladness that is sweetly all but one with pain rises in the Northern heart when the mist wraps Ti-Marua suddenly by dawn or by day's decline. For the mist loves Ti-Marua and swoops upon it eagle like many and many a time. Then the steep sides of it take another aspect; the great water scarred slopes are like the face of a giant old Maori warrior, seamed with the sacred moko and gashed in many a long-past fight. A passion of Ossianic melancholy glorifies the Northern soul with a nameless romance. Ti-Marua broods over the past; the river sings loud of ancient things. What a foolish conceited fancy it is to disdain the virgin hills of New Zealand because, forsooth! they have no history — because no bard has woven them into undying song! We atoms of a day, do we think these great Presences loom between heaven and earth to honour our petty wars, our ever repeating Empire games of check and counter check? Ti-Marua knows better, smiling darkly through the mist; Ti-Marua is as page 76deep as the counsels of creation, as full of the primeval romance of earth and sun, cloud and rain, as Alp or Appenine. Ti-Marua has been loved of the storm wind, robed with the snow, crowned with the rainbow; can Ghaut or Grampian claim more?52

The narrator, with a 'northern heart' and 'northern soul', 'a passion of Ossianic melancholy' and 'dark gladness', is the romanticised Celt. The Maori are only present by way of simile, the mountainside being configured as an old defeated warrior from a Goldie painting,53 'seamed with a sacred moko and gashed in many a long-past fight'. The landscape is unpeopled, and in particular without a 'bard' who might have 'woven [the virgin hills] into undying song'; but this is not important. The landscape itself is the author of its own story; it has the ability to 'sing loud of ancient things'; it constructs a 'primeval romance of earth and sun, cloud and rain', which is 'nameless'. Because of this, what seems the lack of historical and literary record in a new colony is unimportant, as are the social and political ramifications of the mundane — 'our petty wars, our ever repeating Empire games of check and counter-check'. The landscape, and in particular the mountain, generate their own mythical narrative, one that can stand against that of Europe, 'Alp or Appenine', 'Ghaut or Grampian'. 'Everything seems to have taken a great swirling leap forward this last year or two,' Mackay wrote in 1907: 'It seems as if Australasia had all of a sudden waked up [sic] to find a literature of her own, shaped ready at the door; it seems as if the Antipodes had all at once ceased to be, artistically speaking, the tag ends of Europe.'54

At the time of her death in 1938, Mackay was considered New Zealand's pre-eminent poet, the first truly local writer. Alan Mulgan wrote, 'She became an institution … was throned as a queen, venerated and loved. Everybody who knew anything worth knowing about New Zealand poetry knew something of Jessie Mackay's.'55 By the 1990s she had become a literary joke. Patrick Evans, in The Penguin History of New Zealand Literature, describes her (with no discernible biographical evidence) as 'Jessie Mackay, who declined marriage for good works and bad poetry'. His critical judgement of her work is confined to distinguishing between the 'awful pseudo-Scottish stuff' and the page 77material based on Maori legend where she 'really lets her hair down'.56 The Phoenix generation, he argues, were ignorant of her writing:

… local tradition represented by Jessie Mackay and her like would have seemed a quaint and outmoded pre-war relic had they taken any notice of it. But there is little evidence that the students even recognised that there were older national writers to the south.57

This is not true. Although Curnow did not include Mackay in A Book of New Zealand Verse 1923–45 he certainly knew about her, and, in his introduction, quotes approvingly E. H. McCormick's judgement that '[t]he work of Jessie Mackay and Pember Reeves had its limitations, but much of it did spring from interests shared by all New Zealanders'.58 Curnow goes further:

The poets who define the period of the present book are — at least in their notion of what a poem is, what it is for — more truly descended from Reeves, Adams and Jessie Mackay, than from the altogether sentimental twilight which intervened.59

However, by 1960, when he wrote the introduction to The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse, his attitude had changed. He no longer differentiates between the Maoriland and Kowhai Gold generations: 'Towards the end of [the nineteenth] century there were surges of "national" sentiment which, however, touched nobody at any level where good verse might have resulted.'60 McCormick's view of Mackay is acknowledged but this time disputed:

Though McCormick sees in Jessie Mackay's work of the eighties 'the first sign of national self-awareness', I find only the familiar pseudo-nationalism of the colony, more of the nerves and more highly strung.

Her poetry is 'schizoid writing', 'ghost poetry', 'husks without a past or a posterity'.61

Present-day historians, especially feminist historians writing at the 1990 centennial of the achievement of universal suffrage, treat page 78Mackay more respectfully, but in terms of her political activism rather than her poetry.62 Yet in her dual capacity as poet and critic, she continually interrogates the relationship between place and origin, sets the modernity of settler culture against the inherited or invented 'traditions' of home, plays considerations of empire against the local, and works towards a poetic rhetoric that will accommodate all of this. Hers may not be a rhetoric that matches modern taste, but it is not, as Curnow or Evans suggests, ridiculous. If it is at times highly coloured and figurative, this is merely because of the size of the task Mackay sets herself: the construction of a literary landscape of significance. Mackay knows the dangers of writing the kind of poetry that Curnow satirises as 'Maoriland, An Epic of the South by T. L. Fern Grot',63 as she shows in 'Poet and Farmer', where two registers, that of poetic Maoriland and that of material pragmatism, are set side by side:

The diamond dews begem the wings of morn;
The sable tui's liquid notes are trilling;
The myriad voices of the day awake; —
(Susan, I guess that hog is fit for killing!)

The broad-leaf bends above the murmurous creek,
With silver ripples shining and receding;
The marshy star unfolds its golden eye: —
(That bed of onions wants a power of weeding!)

Now mounts my soul on wings of light conceit
To glacial heights where snowy billows harden!
I scorn the plain and all its sordid care; —
(Hi, there, you brute: — the calf is in the garden!)

Yet stay. Who lingers in these silvan shades,
More blest is he than Emperor or Kaiser:
Hark, infant prattle floats upon the breeze; —
(The imps are cutting gorse with my new razor!)

The incense of the dewy clover mead
Invites the happy roaming bee to suck it;
page 79 The queenly rose is throned in verdant bower; —
(Well, I must milk. Say, Susan, where's the bucket?)64

The construction of place, whether silvan shades or gorse, is an important task of the colonial writer. Here the stagey echoes of Keats and Shakespeare serve the same sly purpose as in Maurice Duggan's celebrated short story, 'Along Rideout Road That Summer':65 they collide a set of literary, mainly Romantic conventions against unaccommodating actuality, here reinforced by a colloquial refrain as deliberately deflating as that in Glover or Curnow.

In 1907, shortly before Mansfield eagerly departed for England, Mackay wrote, 'Colonial writers should stay in the colonies and shape their work on lines natural to their lives and their surroundings', contrasting the invigorating effect of such settings with the 'levelling melancholy and influences of London'.66 This is an early form of Curnow's attention to the local, albeit a local conjured at times in terms of Victorian Romanticism, the sublime located in the beauties of a rarefied natural landscape. Suffused sunsets, glittering ranges of mountains, the echoes of a now departed savage history — all these become markers that can be fed into a specific literary nationalism of place:

Where, indeed, could patriotism find a fitter shrine than the land that contains the majesty of the Sounds and the glory of Aorangi; the land that contains the wonders of Rotomahana and the tomb of Te Terata, marvellous even in its desolation?67

Mackay is conscious that New Zealand writing is in its infancy, and of the need to develop an audience as well as authorship. In the introduction to The Spirit of the Rangatira she sets out this agenda modestly:

[A]t least a few [of the poems] have a flavour of the colonial soil whence they sprang. Whether this colonial character will prove any recommendation to a large section of the public I can hardly say, but I am convinced that the heart of young New Zealand, in these days, beats with the free, untrammelled pulsation of enterprise — beats hopefully to the march of progress and intellect; and, side by side with this aspiration for culture goes page 80the dawning of a national spirit that will, we trust, brighten into the noonday of a nation's prosperity.68

The enterprise and burgeoning prosperity of the new colony is seen here as a necessary condition for its writers. This is in marked contrast to the young Katherine Mansfield, who in 1907 was agitating to return to London away from the vulgarities of her family's colonial bustle, the embarrassment of 'Trade'. Mackay's view of the place of the colonial writer is partly conditioned by necessity. She and Mansfield were from two very distinct social classes. Sir Harold Beauchamp was a businessman and banker, a leading figure in society. Mackay's father was an emigrant crofter and later a farm manager. Writing for Mackay always involved a sense of professionalism, but also the necessity of financial reward, 'under hard and adverse conditions'. There was a strength of feeling derived from personal experience in her agitation on behalf of women's employment and equal pay.69 As a journalist, she wrote Christmas novelettes, was for some time the 'Lady Editor' of the Canterbury Times, wrote a fortnightly column in the Otago Witness (which she described as 'floating verse and immature prose'),70 had poetry published overseas in Time and Tide, Celtic Monthly, and the Lyceum, and contributed to the local suffrage journal, White Ribbon, as well as to similar British publications such as Jus Suffragii, Votes for Women and Common Cause. In the 1890s a family crisis forced her to return to teaching, rather than devote herself wholly to writing and journalism. She wrote to A. G. Stephens, the editor of the 'Red Page', the literary page of the Sydney Bulletin:

When ruin overtook us four years ago, I had to take up a double sort of life — half woman's, half man's work. It is hard for even the most sympathetic man to understand how hard it is for a woman to obtain the conditions a man writer commands as a matter of course. Nobody's fault, you know, just the pains of transition.71

Mackay's friendship with Stephens had begun when he published some of her poems in the 'Red Page',72 and continued until his death, despite the tone of Stephens's initial, condescending review, where he describes her as 'a writer of decided minor promise'. Stephens's piece page 81begins by identifying 'the mob of Maoriland girls' — Mackay, Mary Colborne-Veel, Dora Wilcox — Mackay's being 'the purest finest note we have heard from Maoriland'. Stephens notes her Celticism, its 'ancestral fire', and the tone of 'the pathos of a father's lands she has never seen'. She is compared favourably to Domett and Arthur Adams, although the latter's treatment of Maori legend is felt to be superior. However, in this critically approving context, Stephens proceeds to characterise the achievements of the women writers of New Zealand in terms both patronising and belittling:

They are healthy girls in Maoriland, and their verse is usually a regular and healthy secretion. On Sunday evening, after church, is a favourite composition time. Then you may see the plump and rosy maiden, aet. 17 to 25, a little withdrawn from the massed family polishing off the idea that came when she wasn't listening to the sermon. The metre may be borrowed from the hymn-book; the matter from The Otago Witness and Annie S. Swan; the noble and uninspiring sentiment is all the maiden's own. And the Muse of Comedy smiles, noting the shadow of knickerbockers on the paper. Next Saturday week, if one is fortunate there will be a small illumination of the poet's corner of The Canterbury Times or The Otago Witness; and 'Perdita' or 'Celia' will glow, and dream and wonder if He will see it, and what He would say if He knew, and whether —.

After marriage the secretion ceases; but 'Celia' is faithful to The Otago Witness, and presently a birth-notice illuminates another corner of the paper. Another 'Celia' is launched to write verse in the shadow of next generation knickerbockers; and … such is the idyll of Maoriland life. Literature, with its thrills and flushes and pangs, being necessarily another matter altogether.73

Mackay responded to Stephens's attention with surprising gratitude:

My father is so proud — my sisters too. And for myself I feel I have had my day whatever comes, and when the greater star comes, I shall remove my farthing candle with what grace is possible.74

page 82

Her only reservation was Stephens's disparagement of Colborne-Veel: 'Miss Colborne-Veel is my dear friend … she has the only approach to a salon in the South Island.'

It has become conventional critical practice to charge Curnow and the nationalist poets of the 1930s with a misogynistic disdain for women's writing,75 but Mackay's experience suggests that such prejudice was part of the critical discourse of earlier generations, and that in the new colony there was a plurality of judgements and no single perspective. Women writers could command the kind of respect that Mulgan attributes to Mackay, as well as being characterised in pejorative terms as 'Lady Poetesses'. The reviewer in the Triad in 1908 viewed her influence as essayist and critic with mock alarm:

Miss Mackay has written some good and charming verse, some harmless tripe, and some irreparable rubbish. Wherefore, she has now become a critic, and is (I pray you, men, tread softly!) literary adviser to the firm of Whitcombe and Tombs. I, who love and honour the sweet creature Woman, and am her meekest slave and tiniest poetaster in these seas, I imagine Miss Mackay … pouring vials of her maidenly contempt on the work of all wicked and virile creatures like myself.76

Mackay seems aware of the ridicule women writers could attract, confessing her inadequacy for the role, 'an angular British [sic] spinster, rounding her 40th year, hair prematurely gray, etc — no poet could bear the shock a moment'.77

Given the size of the New Zealand reading community at the turn of the century, Australia was of vital importance not only as a place for publication but also as a sympathetic but distinct critical arena. Katherine Mansfield's earliest publications appeared there.78 Mackay recognises both common interests and distinctive qualities. It was not just, as she put it, that Australians knew 'so fatally much about cricket, and so fatally little about Maori mythology'.79 The two countries had progressed at a different rate. 'Have you lived a year in N. Z.,' she wrote to Stephens, 'and not known that things dead to Australia are still "live" to us, at least, in our slow, cold faithful South Island?'80 But she continually acknowledges a feeling of community between the two countries. In 1907, she writes, 'Now a mouse doesn't move across the page 83Tasman sea but we shall know all about it.'81 Literature was an important part of this relationship: 'We are a literary people in Australasia,' she wrote in 1909, 'you can hear the little booklets popping out of the press like broom pods on a hot January afternoon.'82

Early in their relationship, Mackay asked Stephens's advice on publication in Australia, confessing, 'I am prepared for a long and weary task at best, that precludes the idea of trying English publishers; life is not long enough.'83 Mackay was not strictly speaking a Bulletin author — apart from the 1903 attention given her, she published little there. She seems to have had reservations about the journal, though she was certainly a Bulletin reader, as were many New Zealanders. She wrote to Stephens:

We all read the 'Bulletin' in my country when it comes our way; we all laugh over it; we all specially revel in the Red Page. But one or two Maorilanders have taken a medieval vow not to write to it, I among them.84

She approved of his move to the Bookfellow, writing in 1907 that it was 'a Red Page without the unspeakable Bulletin tacked on'.85 But her work certainly conforms to Terry Sturm's description of the New Zealand writing published in the Bulletin as a local literature distinct from 'any Bulletin "Australian school", [and] … the older, genteel pattern of New Zealand colonial writing'.86 Characterising New Zealand as 'a country of mountains and minor poets', Mackay felt the difference between the two literatures to be their respective relationships to the literature of origin:

New Zealand verse differs from the semi-tropical and wholly Antipodean flower of Australian poesy. The former grafted itself on the good old Saxon stem; the latter 'just growed' like topsy. The New Zealand pioneer poet beached his boats; the Australian burnt his boats. Which did more wisely, time alone can show.87

In making her selection for the 1907 collection, New Zealand Rhymes Old and New, published by Whitcombe and Tombs in London, she makes this affiliation to a literary centre clear:

page 84

[P]rominence has been given to the early links binding New Zealand art and sentiment to those of the beloved Motherland: and the aim has been throughout to dwell on those quiet but everlasting verities on which English poetry anchors. Wherever this booklet may travel, it will be among the children of Caedmon's, Chaucer's and Tennyson's readers —

'All taught to prize those English words,
Faith, Freedom, Heaven and Home.'88

However, 'Motherland', and by implication empire, are here constructs, selectively drawn to enable a participation in a collective literary tradition — Caedmon, Chaucer, Tennyson, et al. Politics are quite another matter. To be a child of the literary empire does not problematise nationalism or conflict with the nostalgic demands of the Celtic Twilight and its radical agendas. At the same time, however, Mackay recognises that New Zealand literature may not make the return journey to Britain without difficulty:

[T]opical verse, however apt and bright, Maori themes, however novel and picturesque, and argot poetry, however forcible within its occult limits, could not be presented before outland readers without annotation wholly beyond our present scope.89

What she characterises as 'the strange new fire and Alp world, and the stranger old Maoridom'90 with which the poet has to conjure, may provide material for a distinctive literature, but that literature will have few readers away from the local setting. The young Mansfield certainly thought so. In July 1908, a year after Jessie Mackay's collection appeared, she sailed for London. The sophistication of the farewell party at the Prime Minister's house may have been compromised by the 'pig-drawing competition'. 'Afterwards the book was presented to Miss Beauchamp as a souvenir,' said the report in the Freelance.91

1 Stephen Turner, 'Settlement as Forgetting', Quicksands: Foundational Histories in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, eds. Klaus Neumann, Nicholas Thomas and Hilary Ericksen (Sydney: UNSW Press, 1999), p. 21.

2 Jessie Mackay, 'The Burial of Sir John McKenzie', From the Maori Sea (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1904), p. 23.

3 The translation is noted in an undated typescript of a selection of Mackay's poems in the Alexander Turnbull Library in a folder containing copies of Mackay's correspondence with A. G. Stephens. (MS-Papers-0778/1).

4 For a full discussion of this topic, see Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York: Routledge, 1995), especially ch. 6.

5 See Tom Brooking's entry on McKenzie in DNZB II, pp. 294–7.

6 Belich, Making Peoples, pp. 313-37.

7 Dick Scott, Ask That Mountain: The Story of Parihaka (Auckland: Heinemann, 1975), p. 116.

8 Scott, Ask That Mountain, p. 117.

9 Sir Peter Buck, who visited Parihaka as a child, said that Te Whiti 'had the bible at his fingers' ends' and 'scarcely utters a sentence without quoting from Scripture'. See Bronwyn Elsmore, Mana form Heaven: A Century of Maori Prophets in New Zealand (Auckland: Reed, 1989, reissued 1999), p. 219.

10 Scott, Ask That Mountain, p. 116.

11 Scott, Ask That Mountain, p. 121.

12 Scott, Ask That Mountain, p. 119.

13 Scott, Ask That Mountain, p. 120–1.

14 J. B. Condliffe writes of Te Whiti's 'keen interest in world as well as local affairs. The prophet subscribed to at least three newspapers and the news from there was translated into Maori for him daily. His interest was in political developments around the world, and he often made reference to these in his speeches', Te Rangi Hiroa: the Life of Sir Peter Buck (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1971), pp. 43–4.

15 Scott, Ask That Mountain, p. 129.

16 Jessie Mackay, 'The Charge of Parihaka', The Spirit of the Rangatira and other Ballads (Melbourne: George Robertson, 1889), pp. 30–2.

17 Jessie Mackay, 'Phantom Ford', From the Maori Sea, p. 26.

18 Arthur Adams, Maoriland and other Verses (Sydney: Bulletin Newspaper Company, 1899), p. 89.

19 Terry Eagleton, Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture (London: Verso, 1995), p. 299. In speaking of the relation between Ireland's colonial position and its writing, Eagleton cites Sean O'Faolain who, 'oppressed by his own sense of Ireland as a "'thin' society, stuff for the anthropologist rather than the man of letters", turned from realist fiction to short stories', p. 149.

20 Thomas Bracken, 'Address: Spoken by the Author at the Opening of the Oamaru Theatre, March 16th, 1883', Lays of the Maori and the Moa (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1884), p. 126.

21 Unpublished autobiography held by the family, quoted in Jessie Mackay: A Woman Before her Time, eds. Margaret Chapman, Pauline O'Leary, Ginny Talbot, Brenda Lyon and Jean Goodwin (Geraldine: PCCL Services for the Kakahu Women's Division of Federated Farmers, n.d., 1993?), n.p.

22 The New Zealand poet, David McKee Wright, writing in the Bulletin, used the pseudonym 'Pat O'Maori'.

23 See Richard P. Davis, Irish Issues in New Zealand Politics 1868–1922 (Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 1974). Davies notes Sir George Grey's attempt to 'use Ireland as a text-book example of the universal consequences of agrarian monopoly', and the frequency with which Irish nationalist MPs toured New Zealand in the 1880s and 90s, p. 8.

24 See Keith Jeffery, An Irish Empire? Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), p. 109.

25 Mackay, 'The Ancient People', From the Maori Sea, p. 17.

26 This looks forward to Mansfield's determination in 1915 to bring her 'undiscovered country' to the world's notice by way of her stories, Journal, 22 January 1915; quoted in The Letters and Journals of Katherine Mansfield: A Selection, ed. C. K. Stead (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), p. 65.

27 Jessie Mackay, 'The Other House', Land of the Morning (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1909), p. 104. In her biography of Mackay, Nellie Macleod identifies 'the other house' with the house owned by Frederick Hoare, the absentee English owner of Raincliff, the station Robert Mackay managed. This identification strengthens the nostalgic imagery of the poem's reference to loss and colonial distance. See Nellie F. H. Macleod, A Voice on the Wind: The Story of Jessie Mackay (Wellington: A. H. and A. W. Reed, 1955), p. 22.

28 Mackay, 'The Valley of Rona', Land of the Morning, p. 113.

29 Mackay, 'Rona in the Moon', From the Maori Sea, p. 13.

30 Mackay, 'The Call of the Upland Yule', From the Maori Sea, p. 25.

31 Mackay, 'Song of the Drift Weed', From the Maori Sea, p. 7.

32 New Zealand Illustrated Magazine (December 1901); quoted in Keith Sinclair, A Destiny Apart: New Zealand's Search for National Identity (Wellington: Allen and Unwin/Port Nicholson Press, 1986), p. 50.

33 H. Okun quoted in Malcolm Chapman, The Gaelic Vision in Scottish Culture (London: Croom Helm, 1978), p. 47.

34 Mackay, From the Maori Sea, p. 32.

35 Mackay, The Spirit of the Rangatira, p. 93.

36 Mackay, The Spirit of the Rangatira, p. 1.

37 Mackay, From the Maori Sea, p. 5.

38 Mackay, The Spirit of the Rangatira, p. 55.

39 This latter hero is, of course, Scandinavian, but comes to Mackay through the Celticism of Arnold, whose poem, 'Balder Dead' is her source. See Arnold, Poetical Works, p. 95. In 'Sunset on the Kaikouras', the death of Balder is relocated to the Antipodes: 'Not the North shall wholly keep him; / Taniwha and Toa weep him', From the Maori Sea, p. 36.

40 Luke Gibbons, 'This Sympathetic Bond: Ossian, Celticism and Colonialism', Celticism, ed. Terence Brown (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996), pp. 273–91.

41 Sophie Bryant, The Genius of the Gael: A Study in Celtic Psychology and its Manifestations (London: Fisher Unwin, 1913).

42 Gibbons, 'This Sympathetic Bond', p. 277.

43 Mackay, 'The Noosing of the Sun-God', Land of the Morning, p. 49.

44 Thomas Bracken, 'The March of Te Rauparaha', Musings in Maoriland (Dunedin: Arthur T. Keirle, 1890), p. 42.

46 George Watson, 'Celticism and the Annulment of History', Celticism, ed. Terence Brown, p. 207.

46 Seamus Deane, Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880–1980 (London: Faber, 1985), p. 37.

47 Geoff Park, 'Going between Goddesses', Quicksands, p.189, traces the origin of this phrase to Dr Isaac Featherstone: 'Our plain duty, as good compassionate colonists, is to smooth down their dying pillow. Then history would have nothing to reproach us with', quoted by Walter Buller in Supplement to 'The Birds of New Zealand' (London: Buller, 1905). A variation on the phrase is used of Aborigines in the Bulletin: 'The aboriginal race is moribund. All we can do now is give an opiate to the dying man, and when he expires bury him decently' cited in W. H. [Bill] Pearson, Henry Lawson Among Maoris (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968), p. 15.

48 Blanche Baughan, Brown Bread from a Colonial Oven: Being Sketches of Up-country Life in New Zealand (London: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1912), p. 12.

49 Jessie Mackay, 'Maoriland: A Cycle of Six Songs', music by Alice Forrester, fMS-Papers-4715-21, ATL. Forrester was Mackay's sister-in-law. The MS is not dated, but internal evidence suggests that it was written soon after 1914.

50 Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London and New York, 1994).

51 See, for example, Mackay's 'The Sowing of Kiwa': 'And think you that a Maori ghost / Is on the Long Look Out? / And did a spectre Maori keel / Drive by us to the rout?', Land of the Morning, p. 121.

52 Jessie Mackay, Otago Witness, 4 February 1903, p. 70.

53 See Roger Blackley's discussion of the painter C. F. Goldie's use of this motif in Goldie (Auckland: Auckland Art Gallery/David Bateman, 1997), pp. 51, 118–19. Goldie's painting of Patara Te Tuhi is a characteristic example of this mode.

54 Jessie Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 26 June 1907, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL. The Turnbull letters are photocopies of Stephens's correspondence held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.

55 Obituary in The Evening Post, Wellington, 3 September 1938, p. 26. See also the discussion of Mackay in his Literature and Authorship in New Zealand (Wellington: P.E.N. Books 1943), pp. 18–21.

56 Evans, Penguin History, pp. 33, 46, 48.

57 Evans, Penguin History, p. 77–8.

58 E. H. McCormick, Letters and Art in New Zealand (Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs, 1940), p.103. Quoted by Allen Curnow in the introduction to A Book of New Zealand Verse (1945). See Look Back Harder, p. 46.

59 Curnow, Look Back Harder, p. 47. Curnow's historical sense is perhaps a little self-serving here. All three poets named died in the 1930s: Mackay in 1938, Reeves in 1932 and Adams in 1936, and are thus not chronologically distinct from the writers Curnow is condemning.

60 Curnow, Look Back Harder, p. 35.

61 Curnow, Look Back Harder, p. 145–6.

62 See, for example, Jessie Mackay: A Woman Before her Time, eds. Chapman et al.; and Mackay's entries in The Book of New Zealand Women/Ko Kui ma te Kaupapa, ed. Charlotte Macdonald, Merimeri Penfold and Bridget Williams (Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 1991), pp. 384–5 (by Aorewa McLeod and June Starke); and DNZB II, pp. 292–4 (by Heather Roberts).

63 Curnow is undoubtedly thinking of John Liddell Kelly's Heather and Fern: Songs of Scotland and Maoriland (Wellington: the Author, 1902). In the title poem Kelly writes: 'From the Land of the Moa and Maori / My thoughts to old Scotia will turn; / Thus the Heather is blent with the Kauri / And the Thistle entwined with the Fern'. Allen Curnow, 'Rata Blossom or Reality? New Zealand and a Significant Contribution', Look Back Harder, p. 10. The piece is a review of A. R. D. Fairburn's 'Dominion', first published in Tomorrow vol. 4 no. 14 (May, 1938), p. 438–9.

64 Jessie Mackay, 'Poet and Farmer', The Sitter on the Rail (Christchurch: Lyttelton Times, 1891), p. 60.

65 Maurice Duggan, Collected Stories (Auckland: Auckland University Press/Oxford University Press, 1981).

66 Jessie Mackay, Otago Witness Christmas Annual, December 1907.

67 Mackay, preface to The Spirit of the Rangatira, n.p.

68 Mackay, preface to The Spirit of the Rangatira, n.p.

69 See an address on this subject Mackay made to the National Council of Women in 1902, The Woman Question: Writings by Women who Won the Vote, selected by Margaret Lovell-Smith (Auckland: New Women's Press, 1992), pp. 139–43.

70 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 20 April 1903, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

71 Mackay, letter to Stephens, 10 May 1903, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

72 'The Grey Company' and 'Spring Fires' had been published in The Bulletin in 1900. In 1903, however, Stephens devoted a page of poetry and commentary to Mackay and the women writers of Maoriland, 'The Red Page', The Bulletin, 23 May 1903.

73 Anne B. [or Annie] Swan was the pseudonym of David Lyall, a popular romantic novelist and editor of The Woman at Home magazine. See Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 141 and Kate Flint, The Woman Reader, 1837–1914 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), p. 307.

74 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 1 June 1903, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

75 See, for example, the discussions in Kai Jensen, Whole Men: the Masculine Tradition in New Zealand Literature (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1996); and Michele Leggott, 'Opening the Archive: Robin Hyde, Eileen Duggan and the Persistence of Record' in Opening the Book, ed. Mark Williams and Michele Leggott (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1995), pp. 266–93.

76 The Triad, 15 no. 10 (January 1908), p. 10. See discussion in Dennis McEldowney, 'Publishing, Patronage, Literary Magazines', OH, p. 640. Mackay was not in fact an advisor to Whitcombe and Tombs. She wrote an introduction to a collection of poems by J. Maclennan which The Triad disapproved of. The journal defended its position: 'To say that Miss Mackay is no critic is simply to declare her very woman. Shall she complain for that. [sic]' The Triad, 15 no. 11 (February 1908), p. 5.

77 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 14 October 1904, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

78 See chapter on Mansfield.

79 Mackay letter to A. G. Stephens, 4 July 1907, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

80 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 1 July 1909, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

81 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 1 March 1907, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

82 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 30 September 1909, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

83 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 29 August 1902, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

84 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 3 January 1903, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL.

85 Mackay, letter to A. G. Stephens, 26 June 1907, MS-Papers-0778/1, ATL. Stephens' editorship of the Red Page ceased in 1906 and he was replaced by the New Zealander Arthur Adams.

86 Terry Sturm, 'The Bulletin', The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, ed. Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 78.

87 Jessie Mackay, introduction to New Zealand Rhymes Old and New, ed. Jessie Mackay (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1907), p. 4.

88 Mackay, introduction to New Zealand Rhymes, pp. 4–5.

89 Mackay, introduction to New Zealand Rhymes, p. 4.

90 Mackay, introduction to New Zealand Rhymes, p. 4.

91 Cited in Vincent O'Sullivan, Katherine Mansfield's New Zealand (Auckland: Golden Press, 1974), p. 78. Mansfield never returned to New Zealand. Jessie Mackay's only trip to Europe was in 1921–22, where she was the New Zealand representative at the Gael Race Conference in January 1922. The conference was held in Paris. Thus she was there at the same time as Mansfield, who, after a number of visits during early 1922, entered the Gurdjieff Institute for Harmonious Development in October. She died there on 9 January 1923.