Living on Pitcairn Island
Loads of people ask us,
“What’s it like living on one of the most remote islands in the world in a community of less than 60 people”.
The answer is, “Its fantastic!“
Like any other place in the world our community has its ups and downs and
political and personal upheavals. The difference here is that we are
so few – so sometimes even the slightest ripple in our social,
economic and political fabric can appear, to the inexperienced eye,
as serious disgruntlement and unrest.
But, on Pitcairn dissatisfaction and unpleasantness are rarely expressed overtly in the first instance. Before that can happen, in responding to a new, unusual or controversial event, an instant sequence of ‘Pitcairn Whispers’ inevitably ensues. The story must be told and retold – with each new set of ears and chatting mouth adding to the shape and shade of the issue before it more formally ‘gets out there’.
In a blink, we’re convinced we know it all - experts in everything and up
with the play on everybody! It’s this that makes the whole exercise
so much fun - because we are all expected, one way or another, to
participate in the game.
Human nature being what it is, we inevitably do. It can be tough for the faint hearted but like it or not, it’s the Pitcairn way. The rule is that you have to keep your sense of humour intact. Yes, it can be frustrating and yes, it can be hurtful and very often just plain wrong but underneath it all a constant remains. We few are in this together - we need one another and collectively we all want Pitcairn Island to prosper. So, issues and differences pass as quickly as they arise on Pitcairn – smiles, cheek and laughter generally reign and in the face of adversity we all do what we do best, “Get off it and get on with it!”
WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF PITCAIRN ISLANDS
Many visitors to our site will be aware that Pitcairn has been the recipient of British financial aid since the late 1970s. Both Kerry and I are employed by the Government of Pitcairn Islands (GPI).
Kerry currently holds the role of Division Manager, Finance and Economics (paid for 50 hrs per month) and has recently been elected to Council. I hold the position of Pitcairn Islands Tourism Coordinator (paid for 40 hours per month) which is a job that is both challenging and fulfilling.
Pitcairn’s working week is traditionally structured to fit in with New Zealand timeframes. This may have come about when the Pitcairn Islands Office in New Zealand was the primary administrative body for the island. In aligning our working week, which for the rest of the world starts on a Monday, ours generally starts on a Sunday. Our General Store, Post Office, Treasury Office, Warehouse, Medical Clinic etc generally open on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. This and the influence of the 7th Day Adventist Church, which marks Saturday as their day of rest, means that a Pitcairn ‘weekend’ entails a Friday and Saturday.
Nice in principle, but our small workforce (no more than 30 odd
people) and our ever increasing workloads mean that most of us work
6 days a week - Sunday to Friday, either in our government jobs or
In our case, we divide our working week between our GPI employment, gardening, domestic chores and making our world famous handmade soaps and fetuei (Pitcairn’s purple sea urchin) jewellery.
As you can imagine we’re always pretty busy. But, there’s always time for a leisurely walk, a spot of fishing, a game of tennis and lots of coffee and socialising. By day’s end, we’re cooking our evening meal and getting ready to settle in with either a good book, movie or the world news via CNN.
For us the mornings are the best. We’re usually up before the sun, drinking our first cups of coffee, watching the dawn unfold – a constantly change vista that brings us daily pleasure.
Looking east over Ships Landing Point
FIRE AND WATERFor many, many years the island’s flora has been invaded by an introduced species commonly known as ‘rose-apple’ (Eugenia jambos). It has adapted to Pitcairn with gusto virtually smothering everything in its tracks. But, it does have an upside – everyone uses it, by the trailer load, for firewood.
classic Pitcairn Island 'Copper'
Rose-apple firewood serves us every day. Because we burn it under the copper to heat our water.
approximately 1 hour to heat
Trust me, there’s nothing nicer than a piping hot Pitcairn shower at the end of the day. Sparkling clean, soft rain water, heated slowly by the rose-apple we have cut, stacked and dried is a daily pleasure we never tire of. The effort that goes into to keeping the wood box full is really worth it.
NOT SO ISOLATED
internet (24hrs) means we are in touch
Logistically we’re basically 3000 miles from anywhere. But we’re not entirely off the radar. These days every household has internet and phone and this has transformed the islands ability to participate in the global community. Since 2006, when private phones and internet went live, we’ve all come to rely on the fact that we are, like the rest of the world, just a phone call or email away from friends, family and business contacts.
Our focus for the last couple of years has been on establishing our home at Big Flower so we’ve been a bit slow in developing our website. Others however, quickly jumped at the opportunity to get themselves on-line and the overall outcome has helped raise positive awareness about Pitcairn and stimulated the local economy through on-line sales.