A prolific writer, Thomas Bracken’s one permanent poetic monument is the stirring prose that became New Zealand’s national anthem.
Bracken, an Irish-born orphan, is believed to have arrived in Dunedin in early 1869 where he soon began a journalistic career. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s Bracken founded, owned, and edited several newspapers. He also wrote poetry prolifically throughout the period, publishing a number of books in New Zealand, Australia and England.
James K. Baxter was one of New Zealand's best known and best loved poets. In his short life he produced a huge number of poems, as well as plays, literary criticism, and social and religious commentary. A hugely influential figure, Baxter was as well known for his life as for his writing.
The forties and fifties were favourable times for poets and poetry, and lively communities of poets sprang up in the main centres, particularly Wellington and Auckland. Debate about the nature of poetry led to some heated exchanges.