The Ballance House opened its doors to a very special guest recently as it welcomed the New Zealand High Commissioner, His Excellency, the Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith.
Sir Lockwood was officially welcomed to The Ballance House by Lisburn City Council Mayor, Councillor Margaret Tolerton and Chairman of the Ulster New Zealand Trust, Mr Paul Hewitt.
The fully restored Ballance House, located on The Glenavy Road, is the birthplace of John Ballance who emigrated to New Zealand, becoming its Premier from 1891 to 1893. A marble statue of John Ballance still remains outside the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington.
Greeting the High Commissioner, the Mayor said: “It is a wonderful occasion to welcome Sir Lockwood to the City and to celebrate the strong relationship between our two countries. Northern Ireland has strong links with New Zealand with so many New Zealanders being able to trace their strong Ulster ancestry. It is important that we do not let these links disappear but rather work to make them grow stronger and I’d like to congratulate everybody at the Ulster New Zealand Trust for ensuring that this happens,” said Mrs Tolerton.
During the visit the High Commissioner presented The Ballance House and Ulster New Zealand Trust with a Maori Dictionary before taking a guided tour of The House.