ANZAC Commemoration Service guest speaker receives Freedom of the City

Congratulations to Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE who has been awarded the Freedom of the City of Lisburn and Castlereagh in recognition of her dedication, service and support to the area as Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim.

Mrs Christie will be guest speaker at The Ballance House ANZAC Commemoration Service on Sunday 28 April.

Mrs Jill McIvor CBE


The Directors and everyone at the Ulster New Zealand Trust deeply regret the death of Mrs Jill McIvor CBE, our esteemed founder of the Trust, who passed away on 8thJanuary 2019.  We extend our deepest sympathy to her family circle.

Jill McIvor was the driving force behind the establishment of the Ulster New Zealand Trust at The Ballance House. It was her steely determination and old-world charm which persuaded her friends and business colleagues to support her through the difficult early stages of the restoration of the House. 

Thirty years on, her achievement stands as a memorial to an outstanding public-spirited person who, in spite of very many difficulties, achieved all that she set out to do.  She had the very happy knack of being able to select those supporters who saw things her way and whom she knew would deliver positive results. 

Mr Paul Hewitt, the present Chairman of the Trust, in a tribute said: “The Ulster New Zealand Trust, and generations of Kiwis with roots in Northern Ireland, will forever be indebted to a marvellous lady, a fearless ambassador and a remarkable visionary.  She was a truly outstanding person who has left her mark on the history of Northern Ireland”.

Lisburn sisters granted New Zealand Citizenship


Gail Porteous (nee Hall) and Lynne Robinson (nee Hall), from Lisburn, attended a New Zealand Citizenship ceremony on Tuesday 25th September 2018 to formally become dual British/New Zealand citizens.  The ceremony was conducted in Christchurch by the Deputy Mayor, Andrew Turner, who himself originates from England.  There were 190 people attaining their citizenship status that evening from countries such as Argentina, Spain, Samoa, China, France, Bhutan, Japan and the USA to name a few!  Each family received a New Zealand Kowhai tree to plant in their garden or at the Citizenship garden located in a local park.  

The ceremony provided a good opportunity to truly see the diversity of people settling in this unique country and to understand why so many people are drawn to making a life for themselves in New Zealand.   

Northern Ireland's special connection to suffrage

On Sunday 10 June an event called PROCESSIONS commemorates a hundred years since women in the United Kingdom won the right to vote.  

This year is also the 125th anniversary since New Zealand women won that right, the first country in the world to give it, and Northern Ireland has a link to the story, as the legislation was put into place by Premier (Prime Minister) John Ballance, who was born near Glenavy in 1839.  His birthplace now houses the Ulster New Zealand Trust..... read more

Thanks to Graeme Cousins, journalist with the Newsletter, who wrote this recent article on The NI man who changed the world for women.



PROCESSIONS commemoration event

On Sunday 10 June, an event called PROCESSIONS will take place across the UK’s four capitals.  It commemorates 100 years since UK women won the right to vote, and coincides with New Zealand’s 125 years of women’s right to vote. 

There will be simultaneous marches in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and London.  Women and girls will hold banners and walk through the streets, wearing green, purple and white – colours of significance to the women's suffrage movement.  The idea is to create a mass participation artwork. 

All details can be found on: It’s free to sign-up and participate in.

The High Commission is currently rallying New Zealanders in London to walk in the procession and the Ulster New Zealand Trust would be pleased if anyone reading this would also share details about the event with any New Zealand networks you know of in Belfast/ Northern Ireland, and encourage them to get involved and spread the word.  


125th Anniversary of the death of John Ballance

A New Zealand Plagianthus regius tree was planted on 27 April by Mr Paul Hewitt, Chairman of the Ulster New Zealand Trust’s Board of Directors, in the arboretum of our Patron, Mr Brian McKnight, on the 125th anniversary of the death of John Ballance. Many thanks to the McKnight’s for their kind hospitality to the Directors and friends.  Mrs Yvonne Hall presented Mrs McKnight with a beautiful home-made bouquet of roses.

Paul and Nick's Big Food Trip

A Northern Ireland media company is producing a cookery series 'Paul and Nick’s Big Food Trip' for UTV and STV.  They recently filmed with chefs Paul Rankin and Nick Nairn in New Zealand and interviewed Tim McIvor who wrote a biography on John Ballance.  The show is due to air on Monday nights from the 16th April and there is one programme that focuses on John Ballance (ep 4 in Wellington) which will air on 7th May.

Photo: David Cumming/Supplied

Photo: David Cumming/Supplied

Willie-John Remembers...

 “Arriving in Invercargill for the Lions was amazing – just like a wet day in Ballymena”

 “Where’s the Coach?” I was asked. {WJ replies } ”That’s it over there, it takes us to matches”

 “There’s this British thing – it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about taking part. Well go and tell them that in New Zealand” 

The highlight of the Commemoration at the Ballance House to mark the signing of the Waitangi Treaty was an absolutely fascinating talk by Willie John McBride recalling his tours to New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions Rugby teams both as a player and manager.

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on February 6th 1840 – exactly 176 years ago – between representatives of the British Government and the Maori Chiefs of the North Island. The Treaty recognised the Maori ownership of their lands and gave them rights as British subjects.

Other of our guests on this auspicious occasion included – The Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim: Mrs Joan Christie, Lord Lieutenant for Co Antrim; The Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh, Mr Tim Morrow; our Patron, Mr Brian McKnight and his wife; and also two Sixth Form Tutors from Dilworth School in Auckland who are attached to Dungannon Royal School for a year.

It was an atrocious day weather-wise with several members being unable to travel on account of the state of the roads, but over 40 members of the Ulster New Zealand Trust at The Ballance House braved the weather for a most enjoyable day.  

The party began around mid-day with a very welcome glass of warm spiced apple juice in the very atmospheric 19th century Parlour at the House which was lit, as usual, only by oil lamps. Lunch was provided by Gilberry Fair, Banbridge and was introduced by Mr Freddie Hall, the Chairman of the Executive Committee.

For many years Miss Betty Wilson has decorated the lunch tables with snowdrops from her brother’s farm and after lunch these are sold off in aid of our own funds to those who wish to take a bunch home.

Once lunch was over, everybody made their way over to the Cottage Room to hear Willie John McBride reminisce and remember the highs and lows of his tours to Australia and New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions. It was a very personal account of sporting history in the making and which we were all very privileged to hear.  

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Andy Glenfield has a keen interest in the involvement of Northern Ireland during the Second World War and he photographs headstones of men from New Zealand who lost their lives in Northern Ireland whilst serving in the Air Force.  

Andy's website is called 'The Second World War in Northern Ireland' and he also has a Facebook page which gives updates on additions to his website as well as Information regarding forthcoming events. There are also video and local news items connected to Northern Ireland during the Second World War.

Read more about Andy's research and his photography.




European Heritage Open Day

Join us for 'Open House' on Sunday 10 September from 2 – 5 pm.  Visit the Ulster-New Zealand exhibition, chat to our knowledgeable guides, and see the restored farmhouse where John Ballance, former premier of New Zealand was born.  New features this year are a presentation on ‘The Shaky Isles’ from one of our New Zealanders, Ashley Eves at 3 pm, a kids’ Kiwi Treasure Hunt, and prize draw for a £20 retail voucher for the Lisburn/Hillsborough Visitor Information Centre.  Afternoon tea in our tea barn will be available from 2 – 5 pm. 

Kiwi Boys welcome High Commissioner

Yesterday three Kiwi boys from Dilworth School in Auckland, New Zealand, who are currently on a year-long exchange visit to Dungannon Royal School, welcomed the New Zealand High Commissioner on his first visit to Northern Ireland.  They performed a traditional “haka” at The Ballance House before being introduced to Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mataparae in front of distinguished guests who included Prof Sinclair Stockman, the recently appointed Hon NZ Consul for Northern Ireland and Willie-John McBride, one of the patrons to The Ballance House.  Sir Jerry, only the second Maori to hold the position of New Zealand High Commissioner in London was accompanied by his wife, Lady Janine; they were initially welcomed by the Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh, Councillor Brian Bloomfield, on one of his last official duties prior to leaving office. After the official welcome the visitors were taken on a tour of The Ballance House, the birthplace of one of New Zealand’s more distinguished premiers,  before having lunch with other friends, guests and volunteers of the Ulster New Zealand Trust.  A memorable afternoon.     

Thanks to one of our guests, McKenzie Cathcart, for the haka video.

Visit of the newly appointed New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK

The Directors of the Ulster New Zealand Trust at The Ballance House and the Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh, Councillor Brian Bloomfield will be warmly welcoming the recently appointed New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, The Right Honourable Sir Jerimiah (Jerry) Mateparae.  

Sir Jerry will be making his inaugural visit to Northern Ireland on 15th and 16th June. The first day will be devoted to Government business at Stormont and on Friday 16th June he will visit The Ballance House in Glenavy at 12.30 pm to meet volunteers and guests, followed by a tour of the House, the Ulster-New Zealand exhibition and lunch.  Tutors from New Zealand, currently based at the Royal School Dungannon, will perform a Haka at 1.30 pm.

Sir Jerry was also born, brought up and educated in Whanganui, New Zealand – the same town in which John Ballance lived once he had arrived in New Zealand.  Ballance also represented Whanganui once he entered the New Zealand Parliament.

For further information, or if you would like to attend this function, please contact us