On the 31st December 'Okalolies' (men in costumes and scary masks) wander about the village to chase and capture any children or ladies outdoors. The fishing dong is sounded to ring in the New Year.

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Event News

Old Year's Night 2023/24

Report from Philip Kendall and Nick Schönfeld. Photos by Julia Gunther

Old Year's Night was a great success, although the inclement weather meant that the Administrator's and Chief Islander's receptions, which normally take place in their gardens, had to be moved to the Prince Philip Hall.

The Okalolies

Okalolies pose outside a shack

Although the weather was not great, it was a blessing for the Okalolies, as their suits and masks get incredibly hot.

Six Okalolies striding along a road in the settlement
Processing through the settlement
Okalolies seeking a victim at a house - with TV camerman in tow Seven Okalolies with Kelly and Emily Swain, the youngest baby on the island
Okalolies checking out a house for victims - with TV camerman in tow Okalolies with Kelly & Emily Swain, the youngest baby on the island. The youngest islander, Oscar Green, was in Cape Town.
Kelly Green plies the unmasked Okalolies with beer as they take a break
Kelly Green plies the unmasked Okalolies with beer as they take a break


The Administrator's and Chief Islander's wives, Louise Kendall and Felicity Glass, were 'kidnapped' by the Okalolies and paraded around the island on a tractor trailer, followed by a TV film crew, before being dropped off at Prince Philip Hall for the Administrator's and Chief Islander's reception.
Three Okalolies escorting Louise Kendall down a path and through a gate (at the Residency?) Okalolies with Felicity Glass (Chief Islander's wife) at her home
Okalolies escort the Admin's wife Louise and the Chief Islander's wife Felicity from their homes...
(Top right photo by James Glass)
Felicity Glass and Louise Kendall in armchairs on a tractor trailer with one Okalolie Okalolies on a tractor trailer arriving at Prince Philip Hall
...to armchairs on a tractor trailer, which paraded them round the village to Prince Philip Hall

The Admin's and Chief Islander's Joint Reception

As well as being an important social event for the whole island, their normally separate receptions give the Administrator and Chief Islander the opportunity to recap the foregoing year's achievements, challenges and significant events, and to look ahead to what the coming year will bring.

Okalolies pose outside Prince Philip Hall with the Admin, his wive and the CFO
Okalolies outside Prince Philip Hall with Admin Philip Kendall and his wife Louise (centre) and CFO Paul Mapasure (left).
Is that HRH King Charles III third from right at the back? Photo taken on Philip's behalf by Julia Gunther
Okalolies presenting hydrangea flowers to Louise and Philip Kendall as they enter Prince Philip Hall Okalolies entering the body of Prince Philip Hall, led by "HRH King Charles III"
Okalolies presenting Hydrangea flowers as they are greeted by Louise and Philip Kendall in Prince Philip Hall "HRH King Charles III" leads the Okalolies as they enter the Hall. He went on to dub Philip with his "sword of state".

Administrator Philip Kendall's Speech

Hello Ladies, Gentlemen and Okalolies!
It's great to see so many of you here tonight. I had hoped that at last the weather would be good to us – but sadly not!
It's hard to believe that the year 2023 is coming to an end already. Yesterday marked our 100th day on Tristan, which feels incredible.
A lot has happened since the last Old Year's Night. I went online to the Tristan da Cunha website to refresh my memory, and there are pages and pages of newsworthy content from this year.
2023 started with our excellent Chief Islander James Glass being awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list – extremely well deserved!
And at the beginning of the year, we lifted all remaining COVID travel restrictions, making it easier for tourists to visit our beautiful island again.
March was a very sad month on Tristan. We lost a number of friends and family, including my excellent predecessor and 3 term Administrator of Tristan da Cunha, Sean Burns, who was suddenly taken ill and passed away. This was a massive shock for all of us. Sean had been very supportive to me as I prepared to be interviewed for my role here. I learnt a lot from Sean in the limited time I knew him, and I know he is sorely missed. The naming of the recently launched longboat, the Sean B is testament to that.
The Governor's visit to Tristan in March, although overshadowed by Sean's passing, was an important one for Tristan. For a Governor to visit the island so early in his tenure is a bonus. He now has a much better understanding of the issues that affect us here, so when I speak to him during our weekly calls, he often refers to his short, but important time here.
With all the things that were going on here on Tristan it's easy to forget that things were happening in London too!
James and Felicity flew back to the UK to attend His Majesty The King's Coronation, and took the opportunity whilst they were there to collect the MBE which James was awarded at the beginning of the year.
Having been successful at interview, my appointment was announced in May, so I took the chance to meet with James in London. He managed to fit me in somewhere between the King and The Prince of Wales.
As I continued my preparation in London, James came back to Tristan and left me in the safe hands of Chris Carnegy, and Richard Grundy who guided me through the intricacies of OTs, Blue Belts, MPZs, BBC and TDC!
Meanwhile, back here on Tristan, stamps were issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of St Mary's Church, and of course the Coronation First Day Cover!
In August, Louise and I began our long journey from London to Tristan. We stopped over in Cape Town to meet everyone there and thank them for the support they give to the Tristan Community. I saw first-hand the tireless work that goes on at Tristan House, together with the support from the shipping agents, and colleagues at the British Consulate General.
After a week at sea, the Agulhas II delivered Louise and me successfully to an amazingly warm welcome from the community. If only the weather could have been as warm!
You very kindly saved up all the work for my arrival. I spent the first few weeks listening to everyone, identifying the priorities. I have begun the busy task of ensuring that Tristan is properly led as we tackle big issues such as our ageing population, climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
2024 will be very important as we begin to negotiate a better deal with the next Lobster Concession. I want each department to have the appropriate resources to function effectively and have begun with the hospital to enable them to cope with an increasing number of people on the island who need care.
Since arriving, Louise and I have had many opportunities to meet you all. From our welcome, reception here at Prince Philip Hall, to our first reception in September at our wonderful Residency, the end of term School Play, the Pensioners' Tea Party (Thanks for all the socks!), Break up Day (!!) and now this unique event, Old Year's Night – complete with Okalolies!
I'm looking forward to many more occasions throughout 2024, including at least 10 cruise ship visits between now and April.
Thank you once again for coming, and thanks to Seven Seas and others for this amazing spread of food. And now, as I hand over to James, enjoy the rest of the party, and may Louise and I wish you all a healthy, happy and peaceful 2024!

Chief Islander James Glass's Speech

I would just like to welcome everyone here tonight, as we prepare for the coming of a New Year. The past year has been a challenging one, as Philip has already mentioned with the passing of Sean and the long wait for a replacement, which only happened six months later. However, I am happy that both Philip and Louise have risen to the challenge, and as far as I have heard, are well accepted within the community.
This past year we saw the Coronation of King Charles III. Along with other Overseas Territory leaders, I, together with the Governor, attended the ceremony, and joined in further celebrations, where we met and chatted with the King and Queen, Prince William and Kate, the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, and others. It was great privilege to see the OTs were not forgotten and the keen interest taken by the Royal family towards the OTs.
The importance of the Overseas Territories was illustrated again at the Joint Ministerial Council, where a Joint Declaration was agreed. The purpose of the Declaration is to reaffirm that which gives meaning to what defines the relationship between United Kingdom and the Territories.
One thing I have continued lobbying for is for Tristan status as a Territory in its own right.
Although we have excellent working relationships with our sister islands St Helena and Ascension, and have no problem with continuing to share a Governor and other key officials and functions, we are very different from them. The recognition of Territory status I think would solve many practical problems. Increasingly, systems worldwide that are pre-loaded with lists of countries and territories simply fail to acknowledge our existence. This has caused confusion everywhere from a bank in Gibraltar to the immigration authorities in Croatia and even FCDO's own protocol team in London!
I am pleased to report that Tristan da Cunha has been recognised in its own right within the Declaration, and will have a separate compact from St Helena and Ascension. The compacts will include an assessment of how far, and in what ways, the UK delivers on its obligations in respect of each OT.
Budgetary support
The cost of living has always been a concern of mine and the council. We can be grateful we live in peace here, however, global events have not escaped us.
We have an ageing population that needs more medical care and increasingly leaves workforce gaps that must be filled with expatriate workers.
Inflationary pressure and shipping costs have now pushed prices on the island to the level where Tristan's public-sector pay (average less than £10 per day) and pensions (£18 per week) are wholly inadequate. I brought this to the attention of the FCDO, whilst in London and did write to MPs, as I feel the Tristan government now needs budgetary aid in order to alleviate hardship. I have been assured that they will help, but there will be more accountability (I can imagine they want to see what we already get is being well spent). I intend to follow this up and hopefully have something in place before the new financial year. In the meantime, it's worth noting that the UK has provided a £1m uplift in support to Tristan this year.
Local Issues:
This coming year we look forward to the long awaited road project; the first in Tristan history, so I hope that it will be a success. The first stage will be the settlement, and then next summer out to the patches and volcano. The Council did point out that they need to take on board islanders' views when planning, which too often is not the case with projects.
The Lobster Concession will be the most important decision to be made next year, and I feel we are behind where we should be at this time. We did send a wish list to Ovenstones to see if we could derive more value from the concession, and we did have a reply.
However, the council still feel we need to know what else is out there, and to fulfil the community's wishes of seeing what is out there, decided not to accept a rollover at this time, although Ovenstones do remain a very stronger contender.
As a result, we served Ovenstones the termination letter of the current agreement just before Christmas, and will now be sending out an expression of interest, before going out for a full tender if needed. So residents, let the council know your aspirations, what you would like the new agreement to look like, besides increases in wages.
Once again this year each island government of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan has committed itself to Marine Conservation. It is also wonderful that this year the ocean has provided an opportunity to acknowledge three people who have made such valuable contributions to the territories, Rodney Young seamount in St Helena, Sean Burns seamount in Ascension and the William Glass seamount which lays just south of the RSA Seamount in Tristan's EEZ. I know all are remembered with affection.
Finally, I would like to wish you all and your families a Happy and Blessed New Year, from Felicity and myself, enjoy!
Thank You

The Dancing

Philip Kendall at the head of the Pillow Dance with Okalolies in Prince Philip Hall Okalolies dancing with women in Prince Philip Hall
Philip Kendall at the head of the world famous Pillow Dance Okalolies dancing with women in Prince Philip Hall
People very much enjoyed the combined reception. The atmosphere was extremely lively and there was much dancing and music. Philip Kendall about to hit the fishing dong at midnight

Ringing the New Year In

At midnight, people gathered round the fishing dong to ring in the new year - the only time when anyone who is not a fisherman is allowed to ring the dong.
Right: Philip about to hit the fishing dong at midnight
(Photo from Philip Kendall)