John Ballance Wanganui Lisburn Musuem 2014 Island Civic Centre

John Ballance at the Island Civic Centre

The eldest of 11 children, John Ballance (1839-1893) was born in Ballypitmave, Glenavy. With little interest in farming, he Ulster at age 18, briefly settling in Birmingham before emigrating to New Zealand with his wife in 1864. Settling in Wanganui, on New Zealand’s North Island, Ballance established the Evening Herald in 1867, before turning his attention to local politics in the 1870s.   First elected as an MP in 1876, at various times he served as Colonial Treasurer, Minister for Lands and Immigration and then Native Affairs, before becoming New Zealand’s first liberal Prime Minister in 1891. In office he was responsible for large-scale tenancy reform; took steps to protect the local Maori population, and moved to give women the vote.

He died in office in 1893, aged 54, and is buried in Wanganui.

In 1994, and in recognition of the life of John Ballance (1839-1893) Lisburn Borough Council and Wanganui Distrcit Council entered into an Agreement of Friendship. This was renewed in June 2014 when the Mayor of the City of Lisburn Cllr Margaret Tollerton visited Wanganui and met her counterpart Cllr Annette, Main Mayor of Wanganui, re-signing the Friendship Agreement.   Mayor Tollerton was accompanied by David Twigg, Vice Chair of the Ulster-New Zealand Trust, and Adrian Donaldson, Director of Corporate Services.

The Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum recently installed a display celebrating John Ballance’s life and work, as well as the friendship agreement, in the Island Civic Centre.

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