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


ANZAC Day Commemoration at The Ballance House, Sunday 23 April 2017


You are invited to join us at 2 pm for our Annual Commemoration to honour and remember all those who took part in the Gallipoli landings in 1915 and other conflicts.  The Commemoration will commence at 2.30 pm with a short inter-denominational service conducted by the Reverend John Farr, Rector of Stoneyford.  During the Service wreaths may be laid by Regimental Associations and individuals.  Following the Service, light refreshments will be served.  The Commemoration will conclude with a presentation by Mr Bryan Johnston on the role of RNZAF pilots who died in the skies over Northern Ireland during the Second World War and who are buried here.   Please contact us if you would like to attend.

Memorable Waitangi Lunch commemoration

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.    


Annual Waitangi Lunch

The Waka crews take part in the celebrations on a wet and cold Waitangi Day held at Waitangi, Northland. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Waka crews take part in the celebrations on a wet and cold Waitangi Day held at Waitangi, Northland. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Waitangi Lunch commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6th February 1840 between representatives of the British crown and  various chiefs of the Maori people of New Zealand and this date is now commemorated as New Zealand’s National Day.  As a result of the signing of the Treaty, New Zealand became a British colony and the Maori people gained the rights of British subjects.  The Treaty was eventually signed by over 500 Maori chiefs from the North Island but the English and Māori versions of the Treaty differed significantly, so there is no consensus as to exactly what was agreed, which continues to be a source of some grievance on the part of the Maori people to this day.

This year The Ballance House Waitangi Lunch is being held on Friday 3rd February.  If you would be interested in attending, please email

12 - 12.30 pm Reception

12.30 - 2 pm  Lunch

2.15 - 3 pm  Presentation:  Mr Ashley Eves, a Director of the Ulster New Zealand Trust.  The subject of his presentation will be "The Shaky Isles".  

Tickets: £25 Single, £45 Double


Volunteering... do you have some time to spare? Then come and join our friendly team!

The volunteers at The Ballance House have varied roles, all of which aim to provide a friendly welcome at the restored farmhouse and ensure you have an enjoyable and informative visit.  This is where John Ballance, who went on to become one of New Zealand’s more enlightened Premiers, was born.

How you could get involved

You could get involved in tasks such as a Helper or Guide for visiting community and school groups or you might enjoy helping out with the children’s crafts and face-painting, or the tea barn catering, car parking and setup teams at events.  If you have existing experience and skills for example in areas such as first aid, catering or customer service for example you may particularly enjoy being involved at our events.  Maintaining the property is another job that keeps the volunteers busy looking after The Ballance House for our visitors.

We can also give you access to training in areas such as first aid or food hygiene.

Whether you are interested in a one-off activity or a longer-term commitment, we would like to talk to you.

Reasons to volunteer

·   Do something different and learn new skills

·  Do a few hours once a month and help at our busy and fun events

·    Be a part of the conservation of our historic property

·  Meet like-minded people and make new friends.


Mayor recognises Volunteers' contributions

A big thank you to the Right Worshipful the Mayor, Councillor Brian Bloomfield MBE of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, the Mayoress, Rosalind Bloomfield, and council staff who received our volunteers for an evening recently in Lagan Valley Island. The Mayor spoke about the many merits of volunteering in the community and how The Ballance House thrives from the time and efforts that volunteers give – and yes, Ireland-New Zealand rugby was mentioned! We were treated to a delicious meal prior to the Mayor and Mayoress giving us a tour of the Council Chamber and the Mayor’s Parlour where we viewed most interesting exhibits and artworks. We were pleased to be able to support the Mayor’s charity, TinyLife, the premature and vulnerable baby charity. Many thanks for a lovely evening.

Strawberry Tea Fair 2016

A great day was had at the Strawberry Tea Fair!   A marvellous range of crafters were here along with Loughall Bees, the RSPB and Ulster Wildlife Trust and Jumping Clay for the children.  The strawberries and cream disappeared fast along with the delicious home baking in the tea barn.  Children went home with very cute clay strawberry magnets and enjoyed crafting with one of our volunteers, Linda.  Even the rain shower did not stop play – thanks Lisburn City for the gazebos which were invaluable.  Thanks to everyone who supported us, including our fantastic volunteers and lovely stallholders.  Browse the gallery /strawberry-tea/

Strawberry Tea Fair, Saturday 23 July

The annual Strawberry Tea Fair is a lovely afternoon out at The Ballance House.  A great range of art and crafts will be available to purchase and prizes to win from the ever-popular Tombola! This year creative crafts for the children include fun with Jumping Clay and we also have the RSPB telling us lots about wildlife.  Along with cakes and sandwiches available in the Tea Barn, there will be a bowl of delicious strawberries and cream/ice cream for everyone.  See you on Saturday 23 July, 12 noon – 4 pm at The Ballance House.