Isa Lei (Fijian Farewell Song)

Isa Isa vulagi lasa dina
Nomu lako au na rarawa kina
Cava beka ko a mai cakava,
Nomu lako au na sega ni lasa.


Isa Lei, na noqu rarawa,
Ni ko sana vodo e na mataka
Bau nanuma, na nodatou lasa,
Mai Suva nanuma tiko ga.


Vanua rogo na nomuni vanua,
Kena ca ni levu tu na ua,
Lomaqu voli me’u bau butuka
Tovolea ke balavu na bula.


Domoni dina na nomu yanuyanu,
Kena kau wale na salusalu,
Mocelolo, bua, na kukuwalu,
Lagakali, aba na rosi damu


English Translation

Isa, isa vulagi lasa dina Isa, Isa you are my only treasure
Nomu lako au na rarawa kina Must you leave me, so lonely and forsaken?
Cava beka ko a mai cakava As the roses will miss the sun at dawn,
Nomu lako au na sega ni lasa. Every moment my heart for you is yearning.
Isa Lei, na noqu rarawa Isa Lei, the purple shadow falling,
Ni so sa na vodo e na mataka Sad the morrow will dawn upon my sorrow,
Bau nanama, na nadatou lasa Oh forget not, when you’re far away
Mai Suva nanuma tiko ga. Precious moments at Suva
Vanua rogo na nomuni vanua Isa, Isa my heart was filled with pleasure
Kena ca ni levu tu na ua From the moment I heard your tender heart greeting
Lomaqu voli me’u bau butuka Mid the sunshine, we spent the hours together,
Tovolea ke balavu na bula Now so swiftly those happy hours are fleeting.
Domoni dina na nomu yanuyanu Over the ocean your island home is calling
Kena kau wale na salusalu Happy country where roses bloom and splender,
Mocelolo, Bua, na Kukuwalu Oh if I could but journey there beside you
Lagakali, Maba na rosi damu. Then forever my heart would sing in rapture.

Do You Know Anything About The Composer of This Song or its History -Post it below.


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32 comments to Isa Lei (Fijian Farewell Song)

  • I am trying to locate the sheet music for the Fijian Farewell song, suitable for Keyboard or Guitar

  • Wiliame Gucake Nayacatabu

    THis song was composed by the late Turaga Bale na Tui Nayau Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba.He is the father of the late Turaga Tui Nayau and Fiji’s First Prime Minister , Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. He composed the song at Tubou , Lakeba way back in 1916. The song was meant for Adi Litia Tavanavanua, when she visited Lakeba in 1916.
    This can be clearly seen as we look at the lyrics of this famous farewell song.

  • Joshua Alpert

    This is fantastic! Does anybody know where I can find English translations to other Fijian songs?

  • Lani Finau

    When I grew up I heard Isa lei is my grandmother’s song from Ratu Tevita from Fiji. My grandmother is Tupou his the only daughter of Hon. Vaha’i from Fo’ui, Tonga. Late Hon. Ve’ehala & Laitia Fifita fuent speak Fijian went to school in Fiji told me that Isa Lei is Tupou’s song & the Fijian use it for Farewel song. We have a family reunion on my grandmother’s side we went to the Palace & King Tupou IV told us when we went that Fijian Farewel song is Tupou’s song some of my uncle & aunties surprise but I told them I knew it long time ago.I heard my grandmother used to come to Fiji and Ratu Tevita fell in love with her. She was beautiful. It’s a beautiful song I always love to hear it. Vinaka

  • Aithne Potts

    Bula Lani, I searched the lyrics of this song as I loved it so much when I was in Fiji back in 1989 and 1991. I want to learn to sing it in Fijian. Thank you so much for sharing your story….so interesting! Vinaka vaka levu!

  • Wazza

    Chords are simple…. For guitar C F G Em

  • admin

    Thanks to you all for commenting.


  • Mel

    Isa Lei is the Fiji version of a Tongan love song used to court the then Princess Salote (later Queen Salote). It was written in 1915 and was heard by a visiting Fijian Sgt. From there the Fijians adopted it to a farewell song. But they kept the Tongan melody.

  • Losana

    The real lyrics should be “Mai Lakeba nanuma tikoga” and not “Mai Suva nanuma tikoga”

  • Vinaka Vakalevu.
    Can still remember the Fijian words.
    My two children were born in CWM Hospital in the early sixties.
    Some old photos in Fiji on my website that you might enjoy.
    Nine years of happy friendships.

  • Jay Narayan

    Isa lei ko Viti meda vou nanuma tu
    Meda vuli mada ka solia noda gu

  • Jay Narayan

    Can anyone please let me have wordings of this song – Based on John Brown’s Body etc tune.

  • Julumkana

    What is the meaning of Isa ?

  • Julumkana

    You can fnd the chords for this song n Ultimate Guitar, google search Isa Lei chords.

  • Clive

    Best version I know is by Bula Fiji.

  • Kaigabu KAMNANAYA

    When the Fijian Methodist Missionaries in the lakes late Ratu who served at Vakuta Island of Trobriand group of island, Mile Bay Province, Papua New Guinea later dies due illness and buried at Oyabiya Mission grave, near Losuia Government station – taught the Trobriand seekers with a number hymns in Fiji language. The lyrics of Isale was used to compose a hymn in Kiriwina (Kilivila) language with the first line; ‘TUTA TUTA BIGALA TALILAGI, YEISU LABIGA BIGABWEILA…’

    For me I know the tune through my local language hymn as cited above but later I learned the Fijian language when I was in primary school on Kitava Isand (Trobriand Islands) some 51 years ago in 1966 or 1967

  • Keleise Tavake

    The Isa Lei is a famous songs to many Fijian and foreigners. However, they thought it was a Fijian original song. Actually its a Tongan melody and its was composed by Tu’ivakano in 1915 while the late Prince had a choir which Tu’ivakano was a member. He then asked the choir to composed a song for Princess Salote whom he was guarding at the time. So Tu’ivakano composed a melody which is known as SI’I LILE VIOLA LOSE HINA. They perform it bbefore Princess Salote. Than later a Sgt. took it to Fiji and they sung it there. The fijian adopted this song and make it there farewell song but clearly this is a Tongan song.

  • Idau

    A beautiful song indeed..Please send a choreograph of this song if there’s any..Cheers!

  • Barry Johnstone.

    I lived for two years between 1954 and 1956in Late 1954, (I was 11 years old)I heard this rtemarkable and beautiful song. Thishearing settled my future – then
    there! I spent the rest
    of life
    as a musicianin the NZSOI’m now 75 yoa and retired. But the impact of that
    song on my soul
    andearsI will
    NEVER forget!

  • Lee Wiren

    My grandfather loved this song. He was temporarily stationed on Viti Levu in late November, 1943, serving in Company G, 182nd Infantry in the United States Army. In a family memoir that he wrote of his war memories in 2002 he recounted briefly of his time in Viti Levu and the the islanders sang Isa Lei when they hiked with the Army unit to their trucks several miles away. In his memoir, he states;

    “…and when it came time to leave we had to hike several miles to where we loaded on trucks. The native people, adults and especially the children followed along with us singing the song of the island; Isa Lei. There were tears in the eyes of many of the GI’s”.

    I know that my grandfather was one of those GI’s with tears in his eyes. I grew up listening to my grandfather softly whistling and singing that song in his wood shop in his humble Oregon home. We all sang that beautiful song during his mournful funeral. One of the last of “Roy’s Raiders” who served on Bougainville in December of 1943 along “Hellesapoppin’ Ridge”

    • Kris

      Hi Lee, my grandfather may have known yours. He was stationed in the pacific, fought in many battles and took part in Solomon’s and I think Bougainville also in 1942-43. My grandfather fought alongside the GI’s, in the New Zealand Army at the time. He also used to whistle and sing Isa Lei which was also played lovingly at his funeral. How we are all connected in some way.

  • John Vandenberg

    I lived and worked in Fiji from 1980-1985, some of the happiest years of my life. I worked with the people in the Ministry of Information as Director of the Fiji Film Unit (later film and video unit) under an Australian Aid initiative.
    Isa lei is the most beautiful Fijian song, even knowing the melody is ‘borrowed’ from Tonga. Every time I hear the melody I am transported back to Viti.
    Unfortunately, the English lyrics provided above are not a translation of the Fijian lyrics. At best they are a poetic attempt to evoke the sentiment. The isa lei is not about a treasure but about the sadness of the locals as their visitors leave the islands to return home. They remind the visitor to remember their visit to the Fiji islands and invite them to return sometime.

  • Peter Langdale

    We are playing this at my Mum’s funeral next Thursday, the Toberua version. My whole family grew up there and on my Dad’s side (he died a year ago next Thursday) I am 5th generation Fijian. ALL of my Aunties and Uncles (6 of them) were born there, my Mum and Dad , me and my brother and sister. This will be the best send-off for Mum!

  • Seniorl Anzu

    Learnt Isa Lei in 1990, at my village school in Tambul, PNG. Taught by my Gr 5 teacher, who originates from the Trobriand Islands, Milne Bay. The Fijian Methodists settled in the Trobriands, as far as history goes, and shared many Fijian ways. During a closing farewell in Nadi in 2009, Isa Lei was sung by locals over a kava session. Upon hearing the song, it brought back memories of the Trobiand teacher and I thought it was a Trobriand song but lately i realised it to be a Fijian.

  • Herbert Stolz

    I cant figure out this translation as it does not reflect the lyrics of the song

  • Linda

    Try another gorgeous acoustic version of this – esp if you’re Fijian Indian. On VM Ghatt/Ry Cooder on ‘A meeting by the River’, the album got a Grammy. It’s an early memory of mine, my palagi Dad used to sing it to my future stepmother.

  • Patson fafale

    Like this song so very badly, but i love the free at last version. tha version where the slave band from south africa sang. the reggae version from lucky dube’s band sang by Tutu Canisele. love it

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