Lion foundation songwriting

Lion Foundation Songwriting 2020

2020 Results

First Place in the 2020 Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition is Eseta Vaomotou from Gisborne Girls' High School, with her song ‘Family Forever' Congratulations!

Eseta will receive the Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition 1st Place Trophy, a $1,000 NZ Rockshop voucher and a NZ On Air Music Single Grant of up to $10,000 for recording the track professionally and to make a music video. We thank these organisations for their ongoing support.

All other 49 finalists received a $50 Rockshop voucher along with a signed certificate for each songwriter and a professional recording studio session to the value of $750 (plus GST).

All songs were be mastered for the annual Play It Strange album, available for free downloading and/or streaming.


Eseta Vaomotou

"Family Forever"

Gisborne Girls' High School

'Family Forever' is a song that encapsulates a young person's emotional
embracing of their domestic environment in a wonderfully positive and celebratory way.  It's whanau, friends and it's the momentum of people moving forward in life. Together. It's strong and resilient.
It's a great track......
– Mike Chunn, CEO

David Richwhite Lyric Award

Tara Canton

"Bedside Table"

Chilton St James School
(Lower Hutt)

"..really enjoyed the subtle metaphors and allusions to emotional turmoil without being obtuse or too on the nose."
– Judge Will Parsonson, 95bfm Morning Glory Host

Junior Maioha Award

Skylah Hewett & Ozarius Tu'ua


Papatoetoe High School

"I was thrilled to hear the waiata of these outstanding young songwriters. Tau kē/ Awesome!"
- Judge Hinewehi Mohi, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi TūhoePītau Whakarewa – Māori Membership Growth & Development Leader, APRA


Papatoetoe High SchooL

The 2020 Play It Strange PwC School Of The Year Award goes to Papatoetoe High School for having the most songs in the Top 50 finalist list - Congratulations!

2020 Finalist Top 50 List

Daeshanah'Rei Wilkie-Marino

"Aio o Roto"

Gisborne Girls' High School (Gisborne)

Marianne Leigh


Baradene College (Auckland)

Tara Canton

"Bedside Table"

Chilton St James School (Lower Hutt)

Tamanna Srivastava

"Before I'm Wide Awake"

Avondale College (Auckland)

Bailey Larkin

"Buddy Holly's Mild High"

Hobsonville Point Secondary School (Auckland)

Siosiua Tui
Sione 'Aho
Hosea Telefoni


Papatoetoe High School (Auckland)

Morgan Costello

"Cover My Eyes"

Kaipara College (Auckland)

Kate Popham

"Don't Play With Fire"

Mahurangi College (Auckland)

Sam Charlesworth

"English Rose"

Westlake Boys' High School (Auckland)

Monet Schutte


Burnside High School (Christchurch)


Eseta Vaomotou

"Family Forever"

Gisborne Girls' High School (Gisborne)

Lorna sharland

"Five Legged Spider"

Waimea College (Nelson)

Hamish Burgess


Taieri College (Mosgiel)

Greta Balfour

"He Knows"

Wakatipu High School (Queesntown)

Jalayne Te Paa

"He kore au"

Kaipara College (Auckland)

Victoria Stephenson


Papatoetoe High School (Auckland)

Beth Torrance-Hetherington

"I Really Really Really Really Like U"

Thames High School (Thames)

Sophie Brown

"I Wanna See You Fly"

Epsom Girls' Grammar School (Auckland)

Ollie Neil
Ephraim Frame

"I Will"

Hillcrest High School (Hamilton)

Molly Cowman

"I Wonder"

Otumoetai College (Tauranga)

Joanna Suckling

"I'm Gonna Make It"

Papatoetoe High School (Auckland)

Sinitalela Vaomotou

"In His Eyes"

Gisborne Girls' High School (Gisborne)

Sophie Frame

"Isaiah 43"

Hillcrest High School

Ella Barwick


Pukekohe High School (Auckland)

Katie-Lee Webster

"Lonely Hearts Club"

Baradene College (Auckland)

Waiari Kohu-Matika


Otumoetai College (Tauranga)

Grace Cameron,
Finn Gowthorpe
Floyd Clark

"Onion Pie"

Kaipara College (Auckland)

Frankie Smith,
Raf Hosking
Jasper Renner-Allen
Caspian Rive

"Outside Observer"

Western Springs College (Auckland)

Skylah Hewett,
Ozarius Tu'ua


Papatoetoe High School (Auckland)

Joseph Lorimer


Hamilton Boys' High School (Hamilton)

Tomuri Spicer


King's High School (Dunedin)

Caleb wong,
Max Henley

"Prince Albert"

Hutt International Boys' School (Wellington)

Zoe Mills

"Say My Name"

Baradene College (Auckland)

Tatiana Tonumaivao


Manurewa High School (Auckland)

Nicole Winter
Flo Akauola


Papatoetoe High School (Auckland)

Stanley Taufa
Jon Taufa

"She Worth"

Papatoetoe High School (Auckland)

Roshi Sneyd

"Spit It Out"

Wellington College (Wellington)

India Cox


Kaipara College (Auckland)

Deannah Potaka

"Street Lights And Rose Perfume"

Hamilton Girls' High School (Hamilton)

Madeleine Bonnar
Harriet Laughton

"Sunflowers Bloom"

Epsom Girls' Grammar School (Auckland)

Matisse Reynolds
Carlo Marinovich

"Take Flight"

Albany Senior High School (Auckland)
Rosmini College (Auckland)

Johelonn Toroa-Taare

"Te Pou!"

Gisborne Girls' High School (Gisborne)

Renée Vaudrey


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Caitlin Jenkins
Jill Pa'u

"Toe Fo’i i le Fale"

Papatoetoe High School (Auckland)

Sage Klein


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Billie Comer


Wakatipu High School (Queenstown)

Luca Georgalli

"When Ever I Fall"

Mt Aspiring College (Wanaka)

Caitlin Newson

"When You Don't See."

Rotorua Lakes High School (Rotorua)

Mere-heni Matete

"Where Did You Go?"

Gisborne Girls' High School (Gisborne)

Keira Batten Coogan


Gisborne Girls' High School (Gisborne)

*If there is incorrect finalists information regarding a song title, writer name, etc please email to have it corrected -please put the song title in the subject line.

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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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