Youthtown Songwriting


The Youthtown Songwriting Competition is a competition run by Play It Strange in partnership with Youthtown for school students, years 9 to 13, in the West and South Auckland region. Please see the list of 43 eligible schools below.

Here is a chance for you to have YOUR original song recorded in a professional recording studio. This is a great experience.

Entries close Friday 8th May. 

This competition celebrates and embraces the voice of our youth through song -shared with schools, community, whanau, peers and the wider music community.

TWENTY finalist songs will be chosen to be recorded and mastered for the 2020 Youthtown Songwriting Competition album which will be available for free download and streaming on the Play It Strange website


Youthtown Songwriting Competition results will be announced on Friday 22nd May 2020.



The winning song chosen from the 20 finalists will receive the Youthtown 1st Place Trophy along with the opportunity to perform at the 2020 Play It Strange Awards in December.


First Place along with all other finalists receive a signed certificate and a day at Parachute Studios,New North Road, Kingsland, to record their finalist song (between mid June 2020 and mid July 2020).

How it works

Entry is completed online and your song must be authorised by your school’s principal or other teacher (see entry form).

Your school must be on the South and West Auckland school list shown.

Our judging panel does not take the entry’s recording or performance quality into account. 

Each song is judged equally - 50% lyrics and 50% composition.
You are not required to perform your own song for the entry recording.

The song can be recorded by a group or by an individual
(see 4b. on the conditions of entry section).


Eligible Schools

Alfriston College

Aorere College

Auckland Girls' Grammar School

Auckland Seventh-Day Adventist H S

De La Salle College

Edgewater College

Green Bay High School

Henderson High School

Hobsonville Point Secondary SchooL

JAMES COOK High School

Kaipara College

Kelston Boys' High School


Kia Aroha College

Liston College

Lynfield College

Mangere College

Manurewa High School

Marcellin College

Marist College

Massey High School

McAuley High School

Mt Albert Grammar School

Mt rOSKILL Grammar School

One Tree Hill College

Onehunga High School

Otahuhu College

Pakuranga College

Papakura High School

Papatoetoe High School

Pukekohe High School

Rosehill College

Rutherford College

Sancta Maria College

Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Senior School

St Paul's College (Ponsonby)

Tamaki College

Tangaroa College

Te Wharekura o Manurewa

Waiuku College

Wesley College

Western Springs College

Zayed College for Girls

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.


Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition


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

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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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.

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.


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


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

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