Story: Intellectuals

'For Armenia' by Jessie Mackay

'For Armenia' by Jessie Mackay

Jessie Mackay published this poetic appeal to the women of New Zealand in the Otago Witness in August 1896. It asked them to pressure the British government to support Armenia against Sultan Abdul Hamid II in the massacres which were occurring at that time. Armenia was a Christian community within the Ottoman Empire, and the Sultan felt that Islam and the empire were increasingly under pressure from nationalist movements and western forces. He saw Armenia as a dangerous Christian enclave. It is thought that over 100,000 Armenians died in the massacres. Mackay's poem was typical of her crusading role on behalf of oppressed peoples. She was a teacher, journalist and poet who campaigned for suffrage and women's rights. Her range of interests, her close relationships with others in the literary community and her sense of public responsibility classify her as one of New Zealand's few intellectuals at that time.

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National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past
Reference: Otago Witness, 6 August 1896, p. 41

Permission of the National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Chris Hilliard, 'Intellectuals - Colonial absence of intellectuals', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 July 2024)

Story by Chris Hilliard, published 22 Oct 2014