Lion foundation songwriting

Lion Foundation Songwriting 2021

2021 Results

First Place in the 2021 Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition was Morgan Castello from Kaipara College, with her song ‘Strange Love'. Congratulations!

Morgan received the Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition 1st Place Trophy,
and $1,000 NZ Rockshop voucher. Also an NZ On Air “Special Tracks” grant of up to $8,000 for recording the track professionally and to make a music video.

All finalists received a signed certificate, a $50 NZ Rockshop voucher and a day in a professional recording studio to the value of $750 to record the song entered- well done to all of our finalists.
All songs have been mastered for the annual album, available for download Free on all platforms.
To all entrants, thank you for entering and sharing your original songs with us.

Thank you to the Lion Foundation, NZ On Air, Rockshop, Trillian Trust - all of our funders, patrons and supporters who make this possible. We love working for young NZ songwriters


Morgan Costello

"Strange Love"

Kaipara College

The first place-getter in the 2021 Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition is Morgan Costello with her song 'Strange Love'. Morgan has been a successful Play It Stranger songwriter for the last three years.

Mike Chunn - our CEO - says: "Morgan has a complete array of songwriting skills. From cool chord structures to evocative lyrics; an understanding of prosody and how it brings songs to the right detail and story-telling. Her time at Kaipara College has proved her to be a musician and writer of great worth. 'Strange Love' is a song that deserves first place."


Gisborne Girls High School

The 2021 Play It Strange School Of The Year Award goes to Gisborne Girls High School for having the most songs in the Top finalist list of 93 songs - Congratulations!

Junior Maioha AWARD

Tia Morehu and
Jalayne Te Paa


Kaipara College

This is so exciting and I am over the moon for the girls. They have put many years of hard work into bringing waiata into our music way and they can be very proud of the contribution they have made for us and all supporting the kaupapa. Love your work - Nick Roberts, Kaipara College Tumuaki Tuarua/ Deputy Principal

2021 David Richwhite Lyric Award

Billie Comer

"Dance With Me"

Wakatipu High School

Our Lyric Award judge this year was Play It Strange trustee Sonja Hawkins. She had this to say about Billie’s song; 'I choose this song because I felt a real beauty in the words, both in a literal sense and metaphorically. A story of living  life, overcoming struggles and love and companionship overriding.’

2021 Finalist Top 93 List

Tamsin Day
Talia  Unkovich
Maddie Barry

"All In My Head"

Kaipara (Auckland)

Sam Glynan


St Patrick's College (Kilbirnie)

Cindy Xiong

"Angel Of Something"

St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Kalani Hauiti
Ihaira Kirikiri

"Angels Cries Of Joy"

Tolaga Bay Area School

Angel Jackson

"Be You"

Otumoetai College

ZOE Russell

"Beats Generation"

Otumoetai College

Abby Moa
Sophia Wilson

"Better Off On Mars"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Lara Whitehead


Selwyn College

Imogen Roberts


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Kate Burkett
Daniel Ruthven
Keisha Hollands
Alexis Watt
Emma Bain


Taieri College

Te Whaiororangihuia Webster


Gisborne Girls' High School

Amy Mindham

"Broken Love"

Otumoetai College

Matilda Metcalfe

"Come And Go"

Mt Aspiring College

Saskia Gesthuizen


Papamoa College

Bailee Magon


Kaipara College

Caleb Wong
Max Henley
Luke Cousins


Hutt International Boys' School

Sophia Chan

"Crooked Teeth"

Epsom Girls' Grammar School

2021 David Richwhite Lyric Award

Billie Comer

"Dance with me"

Wakatipu High School (Queenstown)

Alina Wang
Abella Wang

"Designer Perfume"

ACG Parnell College

Leah Dando


Gisborne Girls' High School

Ophelia Muller

"Distance Is Just Space"

Marist College

Matthew Fleming


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Katie-Lee Webster

"Fake Angel Energy"

Baradene College

Raewyn Faasalele

"Feel My  Vibe"

Papatoetoe High School

Sophie Akroyd


Gisborne Girls' High School

Mila Guttenbeil
Georgia Wallace
Elliott Smart
Imogen Pearce

"Girl Named Sue"

Western Springs College, Mt Albert Grammar and Epsom Girls Grammar

Te Kauri Kingi

"Golden Sand"

Kerikeri High School

Elliott Smith

"Gumboots And Rugby Shorts"

Wellington College

Alex Beattie
Avalon Martin


Long Bay College

Jed Scott

"I Can't Remember
What I'm Chasing After"

Selwyn College

Piper Grant

"I Don't Talk To No One"

Home  Schooled

Joshua Duting

"I Wanna Fly With You"

Liston College

Meryl Gogolashvili

"In Another Life"

Epsom Girls' Grammar School

Jenae Kerisome

"In My Head"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Grace Lawrence

"In The Evening"

St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Sienna Sewell

"Its Time To Stop"

Kristin School

Denzell Pei
Maddi Marriner
John Vaafusuaga
Denise Pio
Eseese Vaafusuaga


Rangitikei College

Nicole Winter
Flo Akauola

"Ka Pōpōroroa ahau"

Papatoetoe High School

Ripeka Akurangi


Gisborne  Girls' High School

Alice Burnett

"Let Me Drown"

St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Laura Dudley

"Let Them Eat Cake"

Hamilton Girls' High School

Beth  Torrance-Hetherington

"Let's  Move To The Seaside
And Never Feel Lonely Again"

Thames High School

Markus Mostert

"Lose Control"

Papamoa College

Jimi Brider

"Materialistic Paradise"

St Peter's College (Palmerston North)

Freyja Dunsmuir

"Medusa's Son"

Otumoetai College

Liberty Fowler

"Meet Me In Rome"

Napier Girls' High School

Nenisi Tolu

"Move Forward"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Tamsin Gurnell


Rototuna Senior High School

Hali Warren
Wairere Lewis

"My  Everything In
One Picture"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Ocean Horsfall

"No Rush"

Pukekohe High School

Melinda Xu


St Cuthbert's College (Epsom)

Julia Flyger
O'hara Cross


Gisborne Girls' High School

Analise Twemlow

"Other Girl"

Hagley Community College

Caleb Wright

"Out Of  Town"

Rangitoto College

Thanuja Luxmanan


St Hildas Collegiate

Deannah Potaka

"Part Of  A Man"

Hamilton Girls' High School

Alyssa Cafe
Georgia Brown

"Please You"

Kaipara College

Denzel Pereira
Varish Nair
Stanley Taufa

"Poetry With Justice"

Ormiston Senior College

Junior Maioha Award

Jalayne Te Paa
Tia MoreHU


Kaipara College

Lucy Davis


Gisborne Girls' High School

Olivia Bedwell
Eve Parker-Groves

"Reason For The Rhyme"

Wanganui High School

Ephraim Frame
Arlo Oliver
Josh Hogarty
Sage Garrett
Ollie Neil


Hillcrest  High School

Chloe Taylor
Gabrielle Kitley

"Running Through Mars"

St Margaret's College

Sinitalela Vaomotou

"Safe In My Blood"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Sophie Brown

"Scared With You"

Epsom Girls' Grammar School

Megan Meroiti


Otumoetai College

Keira Wallace


Taieri College

Tadhg Costello
Beno Shaw
Sam Shaw
Rory SimS
Zachary Dignan

"Snow Job"

Sacred Heart College (Auckland)

Aryan Thakkar
Zachary Saunders
Elia Inglis

"So Much More"

Albany Junior High School

Paige Sofield
Erin Smith
Kate Southwick
Amy Thornton
Neve Kortegast


Nelson College For Girls

Hinerauiri Cotter-Luke
Timana Pokoati

"Soul Sister"

Gisborne Girls' High School


Morgan Costello

"Strange Love"

Kaipara College

Cailyn Eccles

"String Around My Ears"

Hillcrest High School

Joseph Lorimer

"Stuck In Time"

Hamilton Boys' High School

William Quinn

"Subtle Dreams"

Manurewa High School

Sifan Huang
Jemima Jackson


Samuel Marsden Collegiate School

Frank Davoren

"Take Me home"

Tolaga Bay Area School

Piata Tibble Tamati
paris hicks

"Te Po"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Jasmine Tocher
Summer Tocher

"Teenage Refuge"

Papamoa College

Bailey Lindsey

"The Late Late Show"

Hillcrest High School

Sadie Yetton

"THE LOVERS (Epilogue)"

Northcote College

Daisy Orbell

"The Unwanted"

Mt Aspiring College

Anjali Attli

"Those Girls"

Epsom Girls' Grammar School

Nemanja Cato


Mt Maunganui College

Eva Hall

"To My (fake) Exes"

Selwyn College

Rosetta Stone

"Turn A Blind Eye"

Home Schooled

Ian Legolas Rico
Rochelle Mitchell
Kudrat Mast


Te Kauwhata College

Gabrielle Lolohea
Timothy Leleimalefaga
Elsie Hita
Pio Mona
Dylan Holt
Hakopa Karena Pellow


Papatoetoe High School

Max Holland
Stanley Taufa


Ormiston Senior College

Struan Gordon

"We Dance In The Rain"

St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Makayla Douglass

"What do I do?"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Chloe Kay


Kaipara College

Imogen Edginton

"With You"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Eseta Vaomotou

"You are Enough"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Kinda Kassibawi

"You Don't Care About Me"

Westlake Girls' High School

*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.


The Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition

This is New Zealand’s national secondary school songwriting competition, and has yielded thousands of entries from around the country over the past 15 years. 

The competition is open to all secondary school students, years 9 to 13, in New Zealand.

This competition celebrates and embraces the voice of our youth through song.

Here is a chance to have your song recorded in a professional recording studio to the value of $750. Over forty songs are recorded, mastered and included on the annual Play It Strange album which is made available for free download and streaming. These songs are enjoyed and embraced by many - schools, community, whanau, peers and the wider music community.

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.

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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.

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.

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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