Here are some of the feedback, notes, encouragement and thanks that we received over the years, from Play It Strange Graduates, family members and teachers.

Thanks a lot for such a unique experience! It was really cool to be able to record our song in a studio and see it transform. Everyone was so lovely and nice to us the whole way through the process. This will stay with me for a long time.
Lily Fitzgerald
Campion College (Gisborne)
Dear Mike
I’d like you to know that Play It Strange has made a world of difference to my daughter Emma Cooper-Williams.
Thanks to opportunities that have arisen from her Play It Strange music award last year, she’s gone from writing songs in her room to performing her Peace Song and other compositions on stages both large and small including, most memorably, at the Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan.  
It has made a tremendous difference to her confidence  as a singer-songwriter. She has reaped the rewards of hard work and persistence in pursuit of her craft; Play It Strange gave her the encouragement to keep going at just the right time.
Play It Strange has identified and filled an important gap in the NZ music scene and I hope it will be around for  a long time to come.
Kind regards,
Fiona Cooper Clarke
Thank you very much Mike: it has been a privilege to be part of the competition again this year.
I found that my song ‘Berlin' needed to be something that could move people and it seems it had that effect on you. I will keep writing my songs as I head off on my own whirlwind adventure to university next year, which is both exciting as it is daunting....
Luckily music and the people who have helped create and shape my music will always be a place for me to reconcile and seek solace in.
Warm regards,
Rebecca Lauryssen
Wakatipu High School (Queenstown)
Dear Play It Strange,
I would just like to say a massive thank you to Play It Strange for all your help and support this year. I could not have done any of my biggest achievements without your support. It means a lot to me that you're so kind and encouraging towards many musicians including my own music.
You've truly made me realize that if music is my passion, then performing it and making it is what I am going to spend the rest of my life doing. I can't wait for what's to come in future.
Levi Sarah
Kaipara College (Helensville)
Feedback from a Hamilton teacher after a Jam Bus visit
“The kids had a total blast when Barney and Ben turned up at our school.  The two of them developed an instant and appropriate rapport with the kids who responded accordingly.  The students have talked a great deal about the experience since and  have really grown in their "musical" self esteem.
When the CD's arrived they were of exceptional quality and I have had excellent feedback on them from the students, teachers and parents.  All in all a very worthwhile and rewarding experience. Now to the Story. Warren is a young 13 y.o lad in my class.  Until recently he was the guitar player in the school band however he has over the past few years been deteriorating rapidly under the advancement of muscular dystrophy.
The prognosis is not great and in the last two years he has lost his ability to walk and is now confined to a wheelchair.   He was often away from school, or when he did come he was often in a bad mood and things had perhaps not gone well for him that morning.  His  father reported to me that on the morning of the Jam Bus visit, he was so excited he had got himself up at 7.00am and was trying to tie up his own shoes.
He helped out Ben and Barney all day.  Played piano on multiple tracks and generally decided that day that sound engineering was his thing.  He is leading the school band and we are playing at the Rock-Shop Band quest this year.  He is also fronting on piano at the school production.  Will's confidence and self belief is back in spades.  His class work and general behaviour is way better.  He still has his bad days as you'd expect but he is the better person for having had the Jam Bus visit."
Dear Play It Strange,
I have been listening to the album as I study for my NCEA exams and it really is incredible!
I'm so impressed by the consistent quality of all of the songs! Wow!
I'd like to thank you and the Play It Strange team for doing such an amazing job and making this all possible! I will forever be grateful for being given the opportunity and have enjoyed and learnt a great deal from it! Your feedback and comments have been very, very much appreciated..
Gwen Palmer-Steeds
Wakatipu High School (Queenstown)
Kia Ora Mike,
I am truly honoured that they awarded me the scholarship and acknowledge that it was because of everything that play it strange have done for me over the years. I'm immensely grateful for the experiences and opportunities offered to me..
I did receive a scholarship from Auckland University which I believe was predominantly due to the support of Play It Strange.
Thank you a thousand times over!
Mercy Alberta Jocelyn Williams
To Mike Chunn and the Play It Strange crew,
Words cannot explain how thankful I am for everything that has happened to me since I entered my song in the Peace Song Competition.
From recording my song to the INCREDIBLE experience of Japan, to my confidence in performing and improving through it all, to the Next foundation wanting to use my song in one of their videos.
The life-changing experiences and opportunities that you have gifted me makes me overwhelmed with gratitude and has made my passion for music and songwriting increase even more.
I love what you are doing for young New Zealand artists and I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for me.
With love
Jessica Adams
Mackenzie College (Fairlie)
I would just like to say thank you for everything, it was such an awesome experience and opportunity which has inspired me to continue to look for new ways to produce music.
And i know i will definitely be doing a lot more song writing in the future!I have just checked out the album and all the songs on it are honestly incredible!
Thank you again,
Charlotte Jackson
Epsom Girls Grammar School (Auckland)
Feedback from 2017 Lion Foundation finalists
Hey Mike,
Thanks for your kind words about ‘Europe' - I think it's the  favourite of my three songs I've done for the Lion foundation songwriting competition.
Also, thanks so much for all the opportunities you've given me over the past three years. I never expected to get so much support and guidance from Play It Strange - I've learned a lot and had a blast!
Molly Ferguson
Diocesan School (Auckland)
Hi Mike,
Thank you for your kind words about "Last Day". It means a lot. I'm really excited to hear the remastered copy. I've felt really inspired this year with my songwriting, enjoying and loving every moment. This is my dream and this is what I want to do.
Kind regards,
Ella Barwick
Pukekohe High School (Auckland)
Hi Mike,
Thanks for your words. Really happy you like the song! And also, thanks for the awesome opportunity. Getting to work on this song professionally was a beautiful trip. Can't wait to make more sounds!
With thanks,
Logan McAllister
St Andrew's College (Christchurch)
Dear Mike,
As I look through our photographs -  there have been SO MANY 'Play it Strange' experiences- one almost forgets. From Parnell Main Street performance with Joel Little - now of Lorde fame- to music Quiz performances, audiences of thousands in the domain....aka Kiwi Day Out, cool happening venues like the Art Gallery, celebrity audiences like the Mayor and politicians, The Town Hall..... on Stage with Graham Brazier and Hello Sailor, and real life studio recording at Roundhead Studios. How cool!
Who knew from the first Play it Strange collaboration at the tender age of 11 such things would come.
The celebrities inspire, the experiences conquer nerves and valuable knowledge is learned. Play It Strange has given Zane (and his band of merry men) confidence, thrills, drive and incentives.  But most significant- the desire to be a musician. He heads into the future with a surety, and knowledge he may never have gained.
Thank you Play It Strange!  You are Rock Stars!!
Sonja Hawkins
(Mother of Zane)
Dear Mike and Play It Strange
We would like to outline how fabulous it is to have had some involvement with the  truly incredible 'Play it Strange' phenomenon.
We have six children and two of them have had the wonderful fortune to have been inducted into the creative family of Play it Strange. We have seen their delight at being accepted as songwriters and performers, as well as the very real and life changing effect of mixing with Mike Chunn and all the enthusiastic colleagues he has.
Not only have Grace and Fletcher really lifted their musical  confidence and ability, it has also resulted in a lift in the musical and creative ambition of their siblings  as well as many many friends.
The energy that has been generated from this amazing organization, is palpable and ongoing. We implore any organizations looking to invest their hard earned community oriented funding to put it  here.
Then see how they can hear the very special creation of music which inspires and expresses with enduring delight, who we are as a people in a young and creative country at the beginning of tomorrow.
Kind regards,
John and Juliet Mills
John Mills Registered Architect BBSc, BArch (hons), F.N.Z.I.A
Nearly 10 years ago my friends Alexandra Jost, Jasmine Plows and I made a song together. We got onto the Play it Strange album and got to experience a day of recording at the amazing York St studios!!
We were like kids in a candy store. I never stopped after that thanks to the legendary Mike Chunn and my music teachers
Last week I attended the Play it Strange concert to support my Papatoetoe music students. Which btw are some of the most talented students ever!! Crazy how time flies.
Thank you Mike for all you do,
Monax Sanei

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.

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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.


Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition


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

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Peace Song Competition


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.

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Who Loves Who Competition


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.

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Strange Art


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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