Lelean Memorial School

Lelean Memorial School
Nausori, Fiji
Type Co-Ed, Boarding & Day Students, Methodist Church
Motto Seek Wisdom And Spiritual Understanding
Established 1942
Principal Ledua Colati
Color(s) Navy Blue, Royal Blue, Sky Blue, White
Website LMS

Lelean Memorial School is one of the largest co-ed schools in Fiji. It was established in 1943 and is run by the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. It is co-located at the Davuilevu Methodist Compound with the Davuilevu Theological College and the Young People's Department, which runs training for Methodist catechists.

Overlooking Fiji's largest river, the Rewa, the school gate faces the Rewa Bridge that was funded by the European Union and opened in 2006. Directly across the river is the village of Nausori and the old sugar town of the same name. The school roll for 2014 is 1600. Lelean Memorial School caters for students in the Tailevu, Naitasiri and Rewa provinces but it also accepts those who apply from other parts of Fiji.


In late 1942, the Pacific Campaign of World War II was at its peak and the Colonial Authority was issued a command that all urban schools should close and surrender their compounds for use as military camps for forces fighting the Japanese threat. At that time, William Ewart Donnelly, a missionary teacher from New Zealand, was principal of Toorak Boys’ School or the Suva Methodist Boys' School — renamed the Suva Methodist Primary School in the 1970s or 1980s. Donnelly served as a teacher and General Secretary of the Students’ Christian Movement in the early 1930s and early 1940s and remained principal of Lelean from 1943 to 1945, when he returned to New Zealand.

Other overseas teachers immediately left Fiji to await the end of the war elsewhere. But Donnelly, the determined missionary principal, sent a circular to all members of the senior classes of Classes Six, Seven, and Eight of Toorak Boys School, inviting volunteers to accompany him to continue their education. After consultation with the heads of the Methodist Church, he received permission to use the Principal’s residence at the Davuilevu Technical School, in Nausori.

As a result, he and 50 volunteers from Toorak Boys School, met at the Principal’s residence 3 March 1943. Their first classrooms were the two master bedrooms with the long verandah on the east side of the structure serving as the library. There were only two classes and the only teacher in addition to Donnelly was Semesa Sikivou.

During the 1943 Methodist Church Annual Conference, Donnelly received permission to expand his school along the same ridge and as a result, the boys themselves, with his guidance, built three large bures, where the teachers staff quarters presently stand. The conference also directed him to name the new facility Lelean Memorial School in memory of the Reverend Charles Oswald Lelean, an Australian missionary who served in Fiji for 36 years. For 20 of those years, 1914 to 1934, Rev. Lelean held the position of Senior Superintendent of the Davuilevu Mission and principal of the Methodist Theological College.

Under Donnelly’s guidance, the Lelean school created its motto, “Seek wisdom and spiritual understanding”.

List of Principals at Lelean

Houses of Lelean

The houses of Lelean are named in honour of one Tongan and three Fijian missionaries. When the Lelean Memorial School was established, the houses had not yet been given names but were numbered Houses One, Two, Three and Four. In 1948, the Davuilevu Council named the houses after Joeli Bulu, Ilaijia Varani, Sailasa Naucukidi and Josua Mateinaniu. The names honour Fiji's local missionary effort amongst her own population as well its contribution to international Christian growth. The house colours, ethos and mottoes are:


In Rugby Union, Lelean Memorial has been the only school in the history of the Fiji Secondary Schools Rugby Union (FSSRU) to have won all school grades. It has never been repeated ever since by any other school in Fiji. Lelean achieved this in 1955 when it won the u14, U15, U16, U17, U18, and u19 Grades. The Bantam grade was later added by the FSSRU. The rugby grades have since then been changed into age groups from Under 15 to Under 19 by the FSSRU.

Lelean has won the coveted Deans Trophy for the FSSRU Under-19 competition, 13 times and drawn five times since it entered the competition in the mid-1940s. Lelean last held the Deans Trophy in 2014. Their previous victory in the Fiji secondary schools' competition was in 2010 after winning the Deans finals for the third consecutive year since 2008. Lelean also takes part in athletics, netball, soccer, hockey and cricket. The Fiji Rugby Union has established a High Performance Gymnasium at the school's Rugby Academy which is also used by the Tailevu Rugby Union, Naitasiri and Rewa Rugby Unions.

School Battle Cry

The school battle cry is Feed the Bulbul. This slogan is unique to Lelean Memorial School. It was coined in the late 1940s to the early 1950s and has been around since then. As boarders in Lelean in the 1950s, students always foraged for food in their free time. This search for food included eeling (hunting for eels), catching prawns, fishing, diving for fresh water mussels (kai), mongoose trapping, hunting chickens that strayed onto the school compound, trapping bulbuls (pycnonotus jocosus fuscicaudatus), and hunting bats. The junior boys in particular were the ones who always venturesome in trapping bulbuls. In setting the trap, this group would close all the dining hall windows and doors, except for the door facing the double storey dormitories. These dorms are now part of the Rugby Academy and Technical Drawing facilities.

To lure in the bulbul, food crumbs would be spread out from just outside the open door to the middle of the dining hall. The group would then go and lie in wait from a nearby vantage point. When the agreed signal was given by the hunt leader, the group would then rush in and lock themselves in the Dining Hall with the trapped birds. The birds were then hunted down for the kill, with balled-up towels used as missiles.

It became a game sport for young Lelean boarders but the kill was also destined for the pot. The derivation of “Feed the Bulbul” is from this foraging sport. In rugby, the Lelean students would practice set moves, on the basis of luring in an opponent into a trap upon which bodies were launched much like 'human torpedoes' with deadly accuracy against opposing teams. The code word for these moves was “Feed the Bulbul”.

Feed the Bulbul evolved from a rugby code to become the school battle cry especially in full contact sports such as Rugby Union and Rugby League

Notable alumni


at Boston University)

Armed Forces

Civil service


Diplomatic Corp


Fiji Police Force




Prisons service

Tourism and Hospitality

Trade unions




Rugby League



    Coordinates: 18°2′11″S 178°31′36″E / 18.03639°S 178.52667°E / -18.03639; 178.52667

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