A Clonmel woman has been appointed to a prestigious position abroad. Niamh McMahon will act as Honorary Consul-General for Ireland, resident in Auckland, with consular jurisdiction throughout the whole of New Zealand.
From Aisling on the Davis Road, Niamh is the daughter of past owner on the French Boutique on O’ Connell Street, May McMahon (née McCarthy), and the late Capt. Brian McMahon, a Chief Fire Officer for South Tipperary and Consultant Engineer. She has been living in New Zealand since 1984.
The former Presentation Convent student says she is “absolutely thrilled” with her new position, and is relishing the opportunity to represent Ireland’s interests in New Zealand and assisting Irish citizens in the country.
“The assistance to Irish citizens takes many forms ranging from passports and visa information to ensuring that Irish citizens in New Zealand are supported when they get into trouble or suffer from some adverse event,” the qualified solicitor and barrister explains.
Niamh, who was previously involved in Clonmel Rowing Club, the Hillview Tennis Club and St. Vincent de Paul, says her new role will give her the opportunity to represent the Irish government on the Antarctic Heritage Trust. This Trust supports the conservation of the various huts in Antarctica including Shackleton’s hut which has a very special significance for Ireland and New Zealand.
She will also be involved in supporting the trade links between New Zealand and Ireland. “IDA has a growing presence in New Zealand. Enterprise Ireland is also strongly represented here,” she says.
A holder of the ‘Youth of the Year’ award in 1978 awarded by the Lions Club Ireland, Niamh says that New Zealand is experiencing a significant growth in the number of Irish people choosing to relocate there. “The New Zealand government has targeted skilled migrants from Ireland to help with the rebuild from the Christchurch earthquake. If you were to walk around the streets of Christchurch, you would hear Irish accents everywhere. There are engineers, surveyors, project planners, resource management experts, builders and other skilled migrants from Ireland that have chosen to move to New Zealand. The needs of this particular community differ from those who either settled here a long time ago or choose to come to New Zealand on the one year visa arrangements between both countries”.
However, despite enjoying the “excellent” lifestyle and weather in New Zealand, the NUI Galway graduate admits she would never call it home.
“New Zealand is a very good country to work in. New Zealanders are generally speaking very straight-up and law abiding. Businesses, local government and central government are efficient. The economy is going well. There is a ‘can do’ attitude to most things. I don’t closely follow the national pastimes of rugby or cricket but having said that I cheer for the All Blacks provided they’re not playing against the Irish Rugby team or the British and Irish Lions,” she adds.