Australian & New Zealand Connections
Australian emigration, as a mass organised event did not get going in a major way until the 1820s after the disruption of the Napoleonic Wars. The distance involved, and the logistics of the journey, meant that the numbers choosing to emigrate to Australia as compared to North America were much smaller.
There were also government assisted schemes such as the emigration of work house inmates and convicts to Australia. Labour had become extremely scarce in Australia around the time of the Great Famine in Ireland and colonists in New South Wales and Western Australia pressed the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners for a scheme of assisted passage. Some local men were to travel as convicts and convict settlements were a feature of Australian society for nearly a century until the transportation system was progressively withdrawn.
You can visit the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast to discover the story of local prisoners emigrating to Australia. You can take a guided tour of the refurbished prison, which dates back to 1845 and learn of it’s fascinating political history.
New Zealand Connections
People from Northern Ireland have contributed to the political, social and economic development of New Zealand. John Ballance, Premier (or Prime Minister) of New Zealand from 1891-1893 was born at Ballance House, Glenavy, County Antrim. John Ballance was instrumental in social legislation and giving women the vote in New Zealand. Today you can visit Ballance House and discover the history of the Balance family, the Ulster New Zealand Trust and other connections to New Zealand.
Another political figure in New Zealand with Northern Irish roots is William F Massey. Massey was born in Limavady, County Londonderry into a farming family in 1856 before emigrating to New Zealand in 1869. He became the 19th Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1912 and served throughout the WWI years. He is considered one of the more skilled politicians of his time and was known for his particular support for rural interests. His term as New Zealand Prime Minister is the second-longest in the country’s history at 12 years and 304 days.