The lives of New Zealand migrants feature in revamped Ballance House

Most migrants forsaking these shores for New Zealand found neither fame nor fortune, but simply the better life they sought.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:08 pm
David Mark, formerly of Cabra, Newry at work in New Zealand finishing stacking 19,330 bags of oats. To discover more about migrants like David plan to visit The Ballance House New Zealand Museum and Event Centre this summer. Photograph supplied by Donal Clarke.

One such was David Mark, who left Co Down for New Zealand before the Great War and features in the revamped Ulster New Zealand Trust Museum at The Ballance House, Glenavy Road, Lisburn, which is due to reopen on July 4.

David Mark was born at his Aunt Teresa Clarke’s home in the townland of Lisnasliggan, Annaclone, between Rathfriland and Banbridge, County Down in 1885.

Reared on his mother’s (Rose Travers) farm in Islandmoyle, Cabra, Newry, County Down David left for New Zealand in 1910, settling at Gore on South Island to work with teams of farm horses.

In the early 1920s David decided to visit Northern Ireland, where he met and married a widow woman, Mrs Susan Flaherty.

David and Susan with her two daughters, Teresa and Molly, then set up home in Gore.

Over the next decade David and Susan added another five NZ born daughters, Susan, Rose, Nellie, Nora and Emily, to their family.

From the late 1920s up to the early 1950s David worked as a storeman in Flemings Oat Mill, Gore, writing home to cousins about days past in Cabra and events in NZ. Letters and photos now in the IT enhanced new display at the Ballance House.

Ballance House museum and event centre will be open again every Sunday from July 4 onwards.

This unique Ulster New Zealand Trust facility is on the home farm of John Ballance, the NZ premier, who played a pivotal part in two world firsts. Kiwi women gaining the vote and New Zealanders enjoying a welfare state 50 years before the UK.

To book your visit to Ballance House, ho to the website at www.theballancehouse.com.