Lion foundation songwriting

Lion Foundation Songwriting

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

The finalists  have their songs recorded at a professional recording studio.  Each recorded song is mastered and included on the annual Play It Strange album.

The album is available for free downloading and/or streaming.


The nationwide competition opens in early February of each year and closes end of July. Specifics are on the entry form.


Junior Maioha (best song in Te Reo Maori)  
David Richwhite Lyric Award (best lyrics)  
Play It Strange PWC School Of The Year (most songs in the final list)

2018 Winners


Laura Griffiths

"LA Baby"

Sacred Heart Girls' College
(New Plymouth)

Junior Maioha

Zyah Greening


Tai Wānanga ki Ruakura

David Richwhite
Lyric Award

Liam Nuttall


Green Bay High School


Green Bay High School


Full List - 2018

Heidi Simpson

"Any Kinda Good Reason"

Green Bay High School (Auckland)

Chris Alaimalo,
Matthew Time

"Be Who You Are"

Manurewa High School (Auckland)

George White


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Leea Roughan,
Ellen Taylor,
Claire Watson


Green Bay High School (Auckland)

Madeleine Harrop

"Cheeky Cheeky"

St Kevin's College (Oamaru)

Liam Nuttall,
Jono Long,
George Moore,
Lachlan Aspey-Gordon,
Chris Browne

"Coming To Terms"

Green Bay High School (Auckland)

Floyd Clark,
Alyssa Cafe,
Morgan Costello,
Grace Cameron,
Finn Gowthorpe,

"Dancing In Your Flames"

Kaipara College (Auckland)

Matisse Reynolds,
Carlo Marinovich


Kristin School (Auckland),
Rosmini College (Auckland)

Tara Canton

"Dinner Plate"

Chilton St James School (Wellington)

Ella Barwick

"Flowers of Summer"

Pukekohe High School (Auckland)

Sam Booth

"Fun and Games"

Gisborne Girls' High School (Gisborne)

Luca Newman

"Go With You"

St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

Harry Champion

"Good Tripp"

Albany Senior High School (Auckland)

Alex Goal


St Andrew's College (Christchurch)


Green Bay High School

Green Bay High School (Auckland)

Gina Hill,
Kyrah Brocks,
Alice Bathgate,
Neih Neih Hlawnceu


Nelson College For Girls (Nelson)

Bryre Aish


Hamilton Girls' High School (Hamilton)

Rangituia Gray,
Chayne Riki

"Home Sweet Home"

Tolaga Bay Area School (East Cape)

Tatiana Tonumaivau

"How Can I"

Manurewa High School (Auckland)

Sophie Haley


Rangi Ruru Girls' School (Christchurch)

Rongomai Callaghan,
Naish'n Morgan

"Julia Peculiar"

Hagley Community College (Christchurch)

Cameron Halberg

"Just Like You"

Liston College (Auckland)

Alina Wang,
Abella Wang

"Key To Life"

ACG Parnell College (Auckland)


Laura Griffiths

"LA Baby"

Sacred Heart Girls' College (New Plymouth)

Olivia Couillault,
Sarah Casey,
Ally Quatermass,
Eloise Cameron-Smith

"Lady Ambition"

Diocesan School For Girls (Auckland)

Payge Swanson,
Reuben Tan

"Late Last October"

Birkenhead College (Auckland)

Leo Crawshaw-Bond,
Tom Chamberlain

"Lay Me Down"

Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School (Auckland)

Leona Bradfield


Feilding High School (Feilding)

Letitia Mackenzie

"Move Aside"

Hauraki Plains College (Ngatea)

Eve Mulligan

"Pet Peeves"

Gisborne Girls High School (Gisborne)

Junior Maioha Award

Zyah Greening


Tai Wānanga ki Ruakura (Hamilton)

Waimiria Coffey

"Saved Me"

Gisborne Girls' High School (Gisborne)

Kaleesha Messent

"Say It To Me"

Hamilton Girls' High School (Hamilton)

Eve Mulligan

"See All Of You"

Gisborne Girls High School (Gisborne)

David Richwhite Lyric Award

Zyah Liam Nuttall


Green Bay High School (Auckland)

Anton Haines

"Stay With Me"

De La Salle College (Auckland)

Chris MacClure,
Cameron Whitworth,
Kaleth Knight


Green Bay High School (Auckland)

Louie Campbell

"Tear Myself Apart"

Katikati College (Katikati)

Hannah Combe,
Zak Komene,
Becky Reid

"Terracotta Tiled World"

Wakatipu High School (Queenstown)

Eimear Kelly

"Till The Morning After"

Westlake Girls' High School (Auckland)

Issy Anderson,
Ngawai Tia,
Grace Friend,
Alice Dowse

"Tripping On Love"

Nelson College For Girls (Nelson)

May Zeng

"We Had The Days"

Westlake Girls' High School (Auckland)

Sonatane Kaufusi

"Where I Stay"

Manurewa High School (Auckland)

Evalyn Henare-Monga

"Who Are You To Say?"

Papatoetoe High School (Auckland)

Gwendoline Palmer Steeds

"Winter (Let It Go)"

Wellington High School
& Community Education Centre (Wellington)

Marianne Leigh


Baradene College (Auckland)

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