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Mike's Message

If we could SEE songs they would be luminous trails in the breath of space. And from there, they drift down to us and we absorb them.

We respond emotionally to every one we hear. That might be in the subconscious, that might be in our present mindfulness. The ones we can sense are like guardians  -  but they are all real.    Some of them we lodge in our hearts where they reside till our last day. Those special ones serve a perfect purpose, always at hand to come into our conscious world to lift us out of the dark.  

Young NZers find in songs the means of expression that is like no other. Their words speak to us of love, regret, joy, loss, celebration, despair, pathos, reward, rejection, perfection. You get it. And those words merged with the music they bring from empty space bring songs into our sphere for us to savour and delight in. But it’s bigger than that.  

Songs written by young NZers forge a communal strand, a national voice, a summation of who they are and with that, it’s clear that they are telling us who we are. Listening to the hundreds of songs that we receive at Play It Strange is like opening a window into the hearts and minds of our youth. And there is much to learn.

– MIKE CHUNN (CEO)

Purpose

Established in 2003, Play It Strange exists to provide pathways of creativity through songwriting - also the recording, performance and celebration of those songs. We have a number of programmes and competitions in place to achieve these goals. 

There are:
- Songwriting competitions from where those judged as finalists get to record their songs in professional studios to be released on a digital album.
- Other song-based programmes and informative avenues

What we do

Play It Strange has worked for over 10 years, striving to provide secondary students with a platform they can use to pursue their musical adventures. We've held concerts, workshops and competitions, all with the intentions to provide the right environment from which students can gain confidence, self-belief and an impetus for a career path they would like to follow. 

Click the links below to find out more about them.

The Board of Trustees

The Play It Strange Board of Trustees is the backbone to our trust. Under the Trust Deed registered in November 2003, the board has seen many committed and focused New Zealand men and women combine to bring a forward-thinking and contemporary energy to the Play It Strange purpose.

Tony Caughey

Tony has been a Trustee of the Play It Strange Trust since 2005 and Chairman since 2008.  He is a company director and strategy consultant. He is chairman of Smith and Caughey's. He is a member of the Business Advisory Panel to the Auckland Council and has an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Andrew Ferrier

Andrew Ferrier is a businessman with a very global background. A Canadian and New Zealand citizen, Andrew was CEO of Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, New Zealand’s largest company, for 8 years. Together with his wife Danielle Guitard, Andrew runs his own private investment business.

Justine Ross

Justine was elected onto the Play It Strange board in July 2013. Justine was a co-founder of the vodka brand 42-Below with her husband Geoff Ross. She is currently a shareholder in Moa Breweries, Ecoya candles and Trilogy.

Neil Hopkins

Neil Hopkins is a Finance Executive with 25 years professional and commercial experience. His experience includes Finance Director for Sony Music New Zealand, which allowed him the opportunity to mix business with his passion for music. Neil joined the board of Play It Strange in 2007.

Sonja Hawkins

Sonja worked in Commercial Interiors for 7 years before setting up her own Interior Design business and working around raising her 4 children for the past 20 years. In 2015 she and husband Glenn started a new business MyArt - offering interest free loans for the purchase of art works.

David Boyle

David is GM of Investor Education at the Commission for Financial Capability which also runs the Sorted Website.  David’s focus is one of helping all generations prepare for their retirement years. His other passion outside financial capability is music. David is also a board member with Stand Children’s Services previously known as Children’s Health Camps.

Claire O'Connell

Claire has worked in the social media space for 10 years. She began her social media career with Myspace in 2006 in Sydney before going on to work at both Bebo and Facebook in London and Auckland. She now has her own business, The Classroom, where she trains and consults businesses of all sizes on how to get the best out of their social media marketing.

Fred Soar

Fred Soar heads up Soar Printing, a family-owned company founded in 1920. Fred is a past chairman and trustee of Melanoma New Zealand, a registered charitable trust that supports awareness, education, prevention, treatment and research of melanoma in New Zealand , and a board member of PrintNZ.

www.soarprint.co.nz

Tony Caughey

Tony has been a Trustee of the Play It Strange Trust since 2005 and Chairman since 2008.  He is a company director and strategy consultant. He is chairman of Smith and Caughey's. He is a member of the Business Advisory Panel to the Auckland Council and has an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Justine Ross

Justine was elected onto the Play It Strange board in July 2013. Justine was a co-founder of the vodka brand 42-Below with her husband Geoff Ross. She is currently a shareholder in Moa Breweries, Ecoya candles and Trilogy.

Andrew Ferrier

Andrew Ferrier is a businessman with a very global background. A Canadian and New Zealand citizen, Andrew was CEO of Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, New Zealand’s largest company, for 8 years. Together with his wife Danielle Guitard, Andrew runs his own private investment business.

Neil Hopkins

Neil Hopkins is a Finance Executive with 25 years professional and commercial experience. His experience includes Finance Director for Sony Music New Zealand, which allowed him the opportunity to mix business with his passion for music. Neil joined the board of Play It Strange in 2007.

Sonja Hawkins

Sonja worked in Commercial Interiors for 7 years before setting up her own Interior Design business and working around raising her 4 children for the past 20 years. In 2015 she and husband Glenn started a new business MyArt - offering interest free loans for the purchase of art works.

David Boyle

David is GM of Investor Education at the Commission for Financial Capability which also runs the Sorted Website.  David’s focus is one of helping all generations prepare for their retirement years. His other passion outside financial capability is music. David is also a board member with Stand Children’s Services previously known as Children’s Health Camps.

Claire O'Connell

Claire has worked in the social media space for 10 years. She began her social media career with Myspace in 2006 in Sydney before going on to work at both Bebo and Facebook in London and Auckland. She now has her own business, The Classroom, where she trains and consults businesses of all sizes on how to get the best out of their social media marketing.

Fred Soar

Fred Soar heads up Soar Printing, a family-owned company founded in 1920. Fred is a past chairman and trustee of Melanoma New Zealand, a registered charitable trust that supports awareness, education, prevention, treatment and research of melanoma in New Zealand , and a board member of PrintNZ.

www.soarprint.co.nz

Tony Caughey

Tony has been a Trustee of the Play It Strange Trust since 2005 and Chairman since 2008.  He is a company director and strategy consultant. He is chairman of Smith and Caughey's. He is a member of the Business Advisory Panel to the Auckland Council and has an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Justine Ross

Justine was elected onto the Play It Strange board in July 2013. Justine was a co-founder of the vodka brand 42-Below with her husband Geoff Ross. She is currently a shareholder in Moa Breweries, Ecoya candles and Trilogy.

Andrew Ferrier

Andrew Ferrier is a businessman with a very global background. A Canadian and New Zealand citizen, Andrew was CEO of Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, New Zealand’s largest company, for 8 years. Together with his wife Danielle Guitard, Andrew runs his own private investment business.

Neil Hopkins

Neil Hopkins is a Finance Executive with 25 years professional and commercial experience. His experience includes Finance Director for Sony Music New Zealand, which allowed him the opportunity to mix business with his passion for music. Neil joined the board of Play It Strange in 2007.

Sonja Hawkins

Sonja worked in Commercial Interiors for 7 years before setting up her own Interior Design business and working around raising her 4 children for the past 20 years. In 2015 she and husband Glenn started a new business MyArt - offering interest free loans for the purchase of art works.

David Boyle

David is GM of Investor Education at the Commission for Financial Capability which also runs the Sorted Website.  David’s focus is one of helping all generations prepare for their retirement years. His other passion outside financial capability is music. David is also a board member with Stand Children’s Services previously known as Children’s Health Camps.

Claire O'Connell

Claire has worked in the social media space for 10 years. She began her social media career with Myspace in 2006 in Sydney before going on to work at both Bebo and Facebook in London and Auckland. She now has her own business, The Classroom, where she trains and consults businesses of all sizes on how to get the best out of their social media marketing.

Fred Soar

Fred Soar heads up Soar Printing, a family-owned company founded in 1920. Fred is a past chairman and trustee of Melanoma New Zealand, a registered charitable trust that supports awareness, education, prevention, treatment and research of melanoma in New Zealand , and a board member of PrintNZ.

www.soarprint.co.nz

Tony Caughey

Fred soar

Andrew Ferrier

Andrew Ferrier

Justine Ross

Justine Ross

Neil Hopkins

Neil Hopkins

Sonja Hawkins

Sonja Hawkins

David Boyle

David Boyle

Claire O'Connell

Claire O'Connell

Fred Soar

Hilary Poole

Key Personnel

Mike Chunn

Debbie Little

Tom Dalton

Neil Finn

Bill Moran

Pam Wardenburg

Advisory Trustees of Play It Strange:

Sam Neill
Murray Thom
Sean Fitzpatrick
Bill Moran

About us

Come inside our world

Songwriting is a craft of the imagination and we believe that the creative environment surrounding songwriters should foster, expose and celebrate these songs. 

We run songwriting competitions with lyric, Maori language, Peace Song awards and others alongside. And we record at least 40 finalists each year in professional recording studios.

Songwriting, performance, and recording are the three pivots of our music evolution.

Read more

NZ Songwriters have their own take on what makes songwriting a vibrant, creative practice - read their fresh perspectives in our Songwriters Speak page

Songwriters Speak

2017 Play It Strange Album

Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition Finalists - songs are free to stream and download

2018 Deadlines

We've designed a poster with all key deadlines and dates for our competitions. Make sure to stick them in your calendar!

Further information about each competitions entry requirements can be found below in our "Competitions" section. 

Online entry forms are now available for each competition.

Download the PDF and print it out, stick it up at school and hand it out to friends, get the word out there!

Download and Print

Different by May Zeng

Winner of the 2017 Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition 

Director/Producer: Mareea Vegas / DOP: Kent Belcher / Art dept: Alex Matthews / Editor: Zac Blair /
Post production: Henry Williamson @ Thievery Studio / Hair: Luci Hare / Makeup: Tiveshni Naidoo / Clothing: Thanks to Lela Jacobs
Special thanks to NZ On Air for their Special Tracks grant which covered the recording and film making.

Competitions

Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition

2018 ENTRY FORM NOW AVAILABLE

The National Secondary School Songwriting Competition is the flagship programme of the Play It Strange Trust.

Read More

Peace Song Competition

2018 ENTRY FORM NOW AVAILABLE

This competition seeks songs with the lyrics embodying a focus on Peace. N.B. We are unable to offer the Hiroshima Exchange prizes this year.

Read More

Who Loves Who Competition

2018 ENTRY FORM NOW AVAILABLE

The Winner and all Finalists have been announced.
For all secondary school students in NZ.
The competition is judged based on the originality of the cover you choose to rearrange and sing, written and performed by a kiwi artist.
Supported by a Music Grant from Recorded Music NZ.

Read More

Strange Art

2018 ENTRY FORM NOW AVAILABLE

Play It Strange presents a Cover Art competition to celebrate all creatives at New Zealand Secondary Schools. 

This competition seeks an Album Artwork for the front cover of the 2018 Play It Strange Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition.

Read More

Sign up to our Newsletters

What we do

We do all sorts of cool projects

Play It Strange has worked for over 10 years, striving to provide secondary students with a platform they can use to pursue their musical adventures. We've held concerts, workshops and competitions, all with the intentions to provide the right environment from which students can gain confidence, self-belief and an impetus for a career path they would like to follow.

Read More

Songwriting is now an NCEA achievement standard

Songwriting will be offered as Level 3 NCEA achievement standard beginning 2017 - a victory!

Get Involved

Strange Friends

Patrons, Strange Friend Stars and our Strange Friends are a crucial and valuable community that support us.

We would love you to come on board.
All donations are tax deductible.

If you are interested in becoming a Platinum Patron or Strange Friends Star or indeed support Play It Strange in any way please give us a call, we would love to catch up and talk.

Email Us(09) 377 7919

Songwriting at University of Waikato

University of Waikato have completed their first Songwriting paper

University of Waikato summer paper ‘Introduction To SONGWRITING’ has just finished.
Students have finalised the tracking of their two songs and the results are very cool.

Read More

I Know This To Be True was conceived and assembled by Geoff Blackwell of PQ Blackwell, and Ric Salizzo. It is a book about truth, beauty and wisdom. "Sixty New Zealanders in the middle of interesting lives talk about what really matters, truth and beauty, and the things they hold dear to their hearts."

Royalties from the book sales will be forwarded to PLAY IT STRANGE to further their website and school programmes.

I Know This To Be True is an incredible collection of New Zealanders discussing what it is that is important to them. PQ Blackwell have generously donated all profits from book sales to Play It Strange. We cannot thank them enough for their support of Play It Strange, and we are so grateful to be part of such a rich, inspiring project.

The book is available for purchase from any good book store in New Zealand and online. Go and get one and enjoy!

Listen to more of our songs here 

The songs on our Bandcamp are free to stream and download. Go crazy. They are there for your listening.

Alumni

See what our Alumni are up to

Play It Strange songwriters that have had their songs recorded for the annual CD are making cool inroads out into the world. Their career paths were fuelled from their time at school during which they sent their songs into our competitions and triumphed.

Here we have a selection of those who hit the ground running when they left school. With songwriting, performance and recording experience they were capable and poised for action.

Read more

Feedback

Happy customers and clients

CUSTOMERS: Those philanthropic institutions, individuals, grants bodies and funding agencies. We applaud their generosity in supporting us and their focus on the benefits we bring to the society around us.

CLIENTS: The songwriters and performers that bring their imaginative craft and performing skills to bear and we are all rewarded. From the secondary school songwriting competitions to the recording sessions for the top 40 songs.

Read more

We Are One

A Concert for Autism

Watch Seven Sharp's story on our WE ARE ONE - Concert for Autism here

Photo GalleryNZ Musician Magazine Review