On the 31st December masked 'Okalolies' toured the settlement to scare women and children. Receptions were held in the evening, and the fishing dong rung in the New Year at midnight.

Event News

Old Year's Night 2022

Reports and photos from Sean Green, James Glass, Kelly Green, Bob Urquhart, and others

Tristanians spend a lot of time during the Christmas and New Year break at The Patches and camping, especially when the summer weather is good, but on the 31st December they return to the settlement for the Old Year's Night celebrations. 2022 was no exception.

Bob Urquhart poses for a photograph with the Okalolies

Bob Urquhart poses for a photograph with the Okalolies

Tristan's unique Okalolies - scarily disguised young men - started things off in the afternoon by going round the village looking for suitable victims. In a battle wits, most women and children hid themselves away until the 'danger' was past. However, one person they 'got' was the island's off duty policeman Bob Urquhart, who discovered too late why they were carrying a large bottle of water!

Okalolies waving goodbye as they depart down the road

Okalolies waving as they depart down the road

Okalolie outside the house door, viewed from inside Okalolie looking for Connor Glass hidden away, ha!! Unmasked Okalolie standing with Savanna Green
When the Okalolies are coming for you, it makes sense to try and hide, although some children have no fear.

The Okalolies don't speak, and half the fun is trying to guess who they are. We publish a picture, below, of them taking a break unmasked to reveal to islanders who was who.

Unmasked Okalolies sitting and lying in a garden drinking beer.

Unmasked Okalolies take a low profile beer break in a Kelly Green's garden.

Group photo of ten Okalolies posing in Kelly's yard/garden

The Okalolies pose for another group photograph before heading on down the hill.

An Okalolie looks back from a gate as the rest head away down the road

Administrator's Reception

In the evening, Administrator Sean Burns and his wife Marina hosted their traditional drinks reception at the Residency, attended by the whole adult community. As usual, the Okalolies put in an appearance to be greeted by Sean and Marina, although they then passed through the Residency to the garden at the back to have their food and drink without revealing their identities. Sean's speech is given below the photographs.

Okalolies approaching the Residency up the garden path, people gathered in the background Sean Burns greeting Okalolies in the Residency garden.
The Okalolies come up the garden path at the Residency.

Guests socialising in the Residency garden during the Admin's Old Year's Night reception

Guests socialising in the Residency garden during the Admin's Old Year's Night reception</0>

The catering team indoors behind the buffet table at the Admin's Old Year's Night reception

The Seven Seas catering team behind the buffet table at the Admin's Old Year's Night reception

Sean's Old Year's Night Speech

First of all - many thanks to everyone for coming along this evening. It is great to see you all here upholding what has been a long standing island tradition on Old Year's Night. It is also great to see that the Okalolies continue to thrive. For anyone new to the island and its traditions, you can read all about the Okalolies on the Tristan website. Peter Millington from the Tristan Association visited here in 2019 and wrote a fascinating article about this tradition.
Yesterday we received news that the Chief islander and Director of Fisheries James Glass was awarded an MBE in recognition of his services to the marine environment and to the island generally. After over 40 years as a councillor, 5 times Chief Islander and Director of Fisheries of what is recognized as a fine example of a sustainable fishery, this is very well deserved. We also received news that Andy Schofield had received a BEM (British Empire Medal) for his services to the environment on Tristan. Andy has been and continues to be a good friend to Tristan. Again, well deserved. Congratulations to both James and Andy.
Talking of the fishery, well done to all who caught and processed the quota before Break Up. The first time since 2006 I think. A huge achievement. And great news that the Edinburgh is also doing so well.
Up until two months ago, Marina and I thought we would be spending our Old Years Night on St Helena. Retirement was the plan. That is now on hold for a few months as the Foreign Office and Governor recruit a successor to Fiona, Steve and Jason. But don't get me wrong. We were delighted and honoured to be asked to cover the gap and we both look forward to working with and serving everyone for the benefit of the whole community.
Having only just arrived, it is difficult to reflect on the past year but clearly, just like Ascension and St Helena, COVID policy and mitigation has dominated. Our thanks go to Steve and Fiona and the medical team for their leadership in tackling the logistical nightmare of getting the vaccines here, which paved the way to opening up the island again. It is unfortunate that weather was against us but we were all ready to welcome all the passengers ashore on Boxing Day. There is no more tangible evidence of how things have changed than that. But we cannot be complacent and will continue to work with the experts at Public Health England to ensure we keep the community safe as we learn to live with Covid.
I have been following the island's move to protect its oceans from afar. Tristan has rightly received a huge amount of positive publicity for the declaration of a Marine Protected Zone. It seems a long time ago when the Island announced its intentions (2016) to become a leader in marine protection. Since then we have worked with many stakeholders to get to where we are; 3 island councils, RSPB, National Geographic Pristine Seas, Atlantic Guardians, MMO, CEFAS, the FCDO and many more. Our thanks go to all. But that work is far from over and we must continue to manage our marine and terrestrial environment responsibly.
Tristan has long been recognized as a community that cares deeply about its environment. That should come as no surprise given how reliant everyone here is on the land and the sea. Over the years, the island has quite rightly received funding for many projects and this will hopefully continue.
Looking ahead to the next few months, the priorities are to strengthen some of the governance issues that we face here; Laws, finances, rules and regulations. But we also need to look at issues such as health as medical costs spiral. Are we really doing enough to help ourselves? Hard but important questions for the whole community.
Infrastructure is also a key area. A report was completed earlier this year on the options for renewable energy. We need to take that forward. An infrastructure report has also identified key areas for investment; a new island store and roads are top of that list. We will obviously need external funding for these projects but as you all know, the finances in the UK are extremely tight. To access that funding we must show that we are doing all we can to maximize what we do have here. That means showing that we are looking after our assets, cutting waste and increasing productivity. There will be a pay and grading review in March where we will be looking at jobs, productivity and reward.
The lobster concession ends in 2026 so there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to review the current concession and consider alternative models. A feasibility study is also underway to look at the option of Tristan running its own vessel. We all know the pressures there are on getting to and from the island. But we need to be realistic. This will have to be externally funded so we will need to be creative in attracting that funding.
It is also great to see Gerhard, Jorrie, Thulani and Vivini back here working on the harbour again. That is reassuring. This work is critical to the island's survival. Many thanks to you all.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you and to recognise the work that others off the island do for us. In particular, to Chris Carnegy, our UK representative and the team at the Tristan Association including of course Michael Swales, Richard Grundy, Peter Millington, Hazel Carter, Jim Kerr, John Cooper and everyone one else.
Finally, we want to say a huge thank you to all who have made this evening possible. To the Seven Seas Team for all the food preparation and serving the drinks. To everyone who has so generously sent food down today. We really do appreciate it.
So Happy New Year to you all. Have a great night and stay safe.

Chief Islander's Reception

After the Residency, everyone, including the Okalolies, sauntered up to the house of Chief Islander James Glass and his wife Felicity for their party. James gave a speech, and then there was the famous Tristan Pillow Dance. The party continued until after dark, by which time the Okalolies had revealed themselves.

Two Okalolies posing outside Wolf-faced Okalolie posing with plain flag
Closer views of Okalolies outside James and Felicity's house.

People sat drinking outside - possible pillow dance happening to the left

The party going on at James and Felicity's, with a Pillow Dance going on on the left

James's Old Year's Night Speech

"I would just like to welcome everyone here tonight, as we prepare for the coming of a New Year. We welcome Sean and Marina, back again and Avril and her family and wish them all the best during their time on Tristan.
We remember the Queen who sadly passed away this year and the contribution the UK makes to its overseas territories. I had the privilege of being invited to her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee events. I would also like to remember the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands war, for which I was invited to several events in the UK, and grateful to the support provide by the Falklands.
The last few years have been challenging dealing with COVID, which has put a lot of work on hold. Hopefully we can start to improve some of the infrastructure that has been stalled like the roads, and I haven't given up on getting the swimming pool heated and covered. I also think a special thank you is needed to Emil who got the pool operational for the children.
In the new year we hope to recruit a Chief of Staff to assist the Administrator, a finance Officer, Teacher, HR person to look at wages and cost of living, as well as others to try and get the island back up where it should be.
One of the biggest challenges ahead are the health of the community and the continued increase in medical care, and people should be mindful of trying not to abuse the system, as it affects us all.
On a positive note:
Fishing was completed in record time in just 18 days, and we look forward to another bumper year next year, and let's not forget the contribution the pensioners make, literally keeping the factory operational. The lobster assessment study is going well and we will receive a report in January. It will be viewed by Council and discussed widely, taking into account the options presented to us before going out for open tender.
There is a vessel feasibility study under way, looking at the options of Tristan having its own vessel or sharing one, either way hopefully having better connectivity between Cape Town and Tristan.
The island has opened up again to tourist vessels, and let's hope we have a successful season. On Boxing Day the Post, Tourism and Island store staff did well in challenging conditions.
Finally, I would like to wish you all and your families a Happy and Blessed New Year, from Felicity and myself, and lets all try to be more tolerant with each other in the new year. Enjoy!
Thanks You!"
more of the after dark party - one Okalolie without mask is visible centre more of the after dark party - one Okalolie without mask is just visible centre
The party carried on until well after dark.

Ringing in the New Year

From James and Felicity's, people dispersed to their own braais and parties until midnight, when they gathered around the Fishing Dong at the back of Prince Philip Hall to ring in the New Year. This is the only time when anyone is allowed to ring the dong, so most people do - three loud strikes with a lump hammer.

Connor Glass-Green ringing the dong - followed later by Emil, although he is not visible Felicity Glass ringing the fishing dong at midnight, with Jess Escobar Porras in the background
Ringing the new year in at midnight. The only time everyone is allowed strike the fishing dong.

Tristan da Cunha wishes everyone a happy and peaceful 2023!