Lion foundation songwriting

Lion Foundation Songwriting 2022

2022 Results

*****Newsflash! Received at the end of September, additional funding from NZ On Air has allowed us to celebrate a further “bonus” 25 songs – a total of 75 songs on this year’s album.

These additional recordings are due by Friday 18th November
See this list below the Top 50 list

First Place in the 2022 Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition is Grace Lawrence from St Andrew’s College, with her song ‘Differently Now'. Congratulations!

Grace receives 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 receives 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

All songs will be mastered for the annual album and made available for download Free on all platforms.
To all entrants, thank you for entering and sharing your original songs with us

If you are a finalist you will receive a certificate(s) and Rockshop voucher sent to you at school. It will include the information re your song Recording Prize. Please read the recording information link. Finished recordings for the annual album are due to Play It Strange by Monday 17th October


Grace Lawrence

"Differently Now"

St Andrew’s College

"Grace Lawrence has a special songwriting craft which finds her matching her lyric themes so that they reflect in the music that she puts to them. It's not an easy thing to do well.  She does it in an evocative way with her winning song 'Differently Now'.Grace has proven to have a sustained songwriting excellence and we wish her the very best as she takes off into a songwriting life." Judges comment


Gisborne Girls High School

Congratulations to Gisborne Girls’ High School for having the most finalist songs in the Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition for 2022

Junior Maioha AWARD

Taniko Rangihau

"Te Rewanga o Matariki"

Gisborne Girls' High School

David Richwhite Lyric Award 1st place

Chris Rowe

"Drowning in the Stars"

Kaipara College

Don McGlashan, Judge; "A beautiful, painterly rush of psychedelic images,  but with a  strong sense of focus:   The person being addressed has the power to stop all the swirling motion in the lyric; has the power to bring peace to the singer. Each verse reinforces this idea.  This particular image, late in the lyric, is excellent, I think: "The universe stops, and black holes will see the light that I see when I’m with you".  

2nd place

Cindy Xiong


St Andrew’s College

3rd place

Keira Wallace

"In the Warm Smell Of Wood"

Taieri College

2022 Finalist Top 50 List

Rachel Stevens

"Bittersweet Movie"

Otumoetai College

Mila Guttenbeil
Elliott Smart
Georgia Wallace
Imogen Pearce

"Bucket List"

Western Springs College,
Mt Albert Grammar
and Epsom Girls Grammar

Lily Avatea

"Burning House"

Manurewa High School

Nikita Rohloff
Grace Doherty

"Cannibal In Disguise"

James Hargest College

Meryl Gogolashvili


Epsom Girls' Grammar School

Cindy Xiong


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)


Grace Lawrence

"Differently Now"

St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Amelia Denz

"Down Bad"

Bishop Viard College (Porirua)

Thomas Johnson

"Down By The Riverside"

Cashmere High School

Chris Rowe

"Drowning In The Stars"

Kaipara College

Cam de Kriek

"Each Time"

Sacred Heart College (Auckland)

Alofa Fuaivaa
Seilala Muagututia
Hosea Telefoni
Keanu Toi

"First Sight"

Papatoetoe High School

Nenisi Tolu

"Five Years"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Yanazee Samuel
Eddie Fesolai
Ridhwaan Khan

"For A Moment"

Papatoetoe High School

Ailin Pekar
Aiden Hosie
Blake Humphrey
Jackson Jones

"Green Garden"

James Hargest College

Manaakitia Gray-Hohepa
Ratima Powell


Kaipara College

Timana Pokoati
Tetini Ariki Pokoati

"Haramai a Matariki"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Olivia Sewell


Kristin School

Hunter Moea'i

"House on Fire"

Manurewa High School

Niamh Crooks

"I Still Love You"

Bayfield High School

Keira Wallace

"In the Warm Smell of Wood"

Taieri College

Keshika Naiker
Reikaira Bernard-Thay


Papatoetoe High School

Felicity Latulipe
Milovale Pomale Time

"Late Nights"

Manurewa High School

Ricardo Samuelu


Mangere College

Olive Mortimer


Rangitoto College

Lucy Summerfield

"Mixed Signals"

Motueka High School

Lavinia Ngatu


Gisborne Girls' High School

Varish Nair
Denzel Pereira
Max Holland


Ormiston Senior College

Nikau Grace Chater

"Princess And The Frog"

Rotorua Girls' High School

Isaac Wirangi
Charlie Brough
Chiara Crompton-Bray
Cameron Lord
Reef Tamihana


Taieri College

Martha Komornicki
Freddy Komornicki
Leo Cotter
Mitchell Brooks


Kaipara College

Taylah Mederios

"Realistic Dreams"

Papamoa College

Chantelle Xiong
Christine Jeon


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Billie Carey


Wakatipu High School

Dani Brewerton


Otumoetai College

Ruby Messent

"Shifting Places"

Hamilton Girls' High School

Sam Glynan

"Sketches Towards Nirvana"

St Patrick's College (Kilbirnie)

Leilani Kwan-Him
Andrei saLVADOR
Saurav Singh
Eryn Kippen


Papatoetoe High School

Ben Bonetti
Ben Wiles
Jack Beaumont
Riley Jeffcote

"Something Out There"

Cambridge High School

Chloe Reynolds


Kaipara College

Junior Maioha Award WINNER

Taniko Rangihau

"Te Rewanga o Matariki"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Waimarama Te Eke-Houia
Te Maramatanga Tautau
Jusdyce Rangiwai

"The Life above the Clouds"

Tolaga Bay Area School

James Whineray-Kelly
Charles Law

"This Crazy Girl"

Kings College

Amelia Robertson


Marlborough Girls' College

Adam Wong

"Tomorrow is Another Day"

Kings College

Teve Gaualofa

"Tu mai taku pele"

Bishop Viard College (Porirua)

Kessia Neal


Marlborough Girls' College

Keira Batten Coogan

"Turn Your Cheek"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Lily Williams


Hobsonville Point Secondary School

Daisy Orbell

"Where I Can Sleep"

Mt Aspiring College

Lucy Munro

"Wine-Stained Wedding Dress"

Catholic Cathedral College

*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.

2022 Bonus 25 List

Stevi Hokianga


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Taska Kemp-Green

"Beautiful Thing"

Otumoetai College

Hamish Robinson

"Die Another Day"

Taradale High School

Liberty Fowler


Napier Girls' High School

Eden-Jesse  Andrews-Starly
Jason-Delavoy Andrews-Starly



Bailey Parry
Georgia Brown

"Five Steps To Acceptance"

Kaipara College

Alex Beattie

"Floating Bird"

Long Bay College

Imogen Pearce


Epsom Girls' Grammar School

Lesieli Tonga

"Have You Ever"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Georgie Gaiger

"Heavy On My Mind"

Rangi Ruru Girls' School

Shannelle Fassioms

"In A Room Full Of  Books"

Westlake Girls' High School

Bella Haugh
Josh Dickson
Kacey Chan
Kenny Zhong
Matt Eroni Soti
Viliamu Hobbins

"It Was Always You"

Ormiston Senior College

Brianna Loan
Jorja Glassey

"Living In The Past"

James Hargest College

Aidan Ripley

"Long Way To Heaven"

Te Aho o Te  Kura  Pounamu
(correspondence school)

Estee Wilke

"Miles Ahead"

St Andrew's College  (Christchurch)

Caitlin Gabb


Hamilton Girls' High School

Kurt Hansen

"Prisoners Of The  Sun"

Birkenhead College

Adi Pani
Grace Mataia
Maka Halasima
Tui Kefu


Papatoetoe High  School

Kieran Sullivan
Luke Thompson
Ryan Bride


Liston College

nat moore


Kings College

Jack Brown

"Sunny Son"

Naenae College

Melody Peters

"The Love, The Loss
And The Lunatic"

Manurewa High  School

Deanna Young
Jacob Nelson

"Thirteen Years"

Cambridge High School

Luca Landells

"When The City's  Without You"

Shirley Boys' High School

Maya Harrison

"You Wouldn’t Know"

Kristin 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 19 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 fifty 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

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.


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