Waitangi Day was celebrated at the Ballance House on Friday 3rd February with a Lunch followed by an illustrated presentation by one of our Directors, and a New Zealander, Mr Ashley Eves.
This year we were able to welcome the new Honorary Consul for New Zealand in Northern Ireland, Professor Sinclair Stockman and his wife, Carmel, on their first visit to the Ballance House. It was also a very great pleasure to welcome our Patron, Mr Brian McKnight and his wife to the Lunch but unfortunately our other Patron, Mr Willie John McBride, was in London on rugby business. It was also a very great pleasure to welcome the Mayor and Mayoress of Lisburn and Castlereagh and also three members of the New Zealand Ireland Association who had travelled up from Dublin to be with us. In all 62 friends and members sat down to a delicious lunch once again provided by Gilberry Fayre from Gilford. The now traditional sale of snowdrops after lunch, which had been picked on the previous day in the most atrocious conditions by Betty Wilson, raised £60.
After lunch Ashley Eves gave us an absolutely fascinating illustrated presentation on “The Shaky Islands” Having been brought up in New Zealand he was able to include his own reminscences of being caught in an earthquake as well as how the geological plates react with each other, sometimes fairly near the surface, as happened in the recent disaster at Christchurch. What very few of us realised is how many tremors in various degrees of severity there have been since the original earthquake. For those who were unable to be present, Ashley has agreed to give his talk again on European Heritage Day on Sunday 10th September. The last event of a very full day was the presentation of a copy of an 18th century map of New Zealand which shows the North Island as “New Ulster” by Mr Bryan Johnstonalong with details of his research into the deaths of New Zealand airmen in Northern Ireland during the 2nd World War.