Youthtown Songwriting 2021

2021 Album


The first national Youthtown Songwriting Competition Aotearoa proved to be a buoyant success. Songs were entered by Yr 9 - 11 students across the TWO song genres ; 'Give It A Go' OR 'Voice Of Our Youth'

Every songwriter can take pride in their achievement. Writing a song, recording it and submitting it to Play It Strange points to a creative skill that is a true force -  and the more songs that are written the greater the skill pattern evolves.

First Place in

Billie Comer

"Help Me Remember"

Wakatipu High School

First Place in

Melinda Xu


Rangitoto College

CONGRATULATIONS to both winners and finalists listed below!

Give It A Go
Full Finalist List

Armaan Chopra,
Kate Dinh,
Tina Rapoto,
Emily Stephenson,
Lana Tang,
TJ Teofilo

"Avocado Song"

Papatoetoe  High School

Valentina Georges

"Believe "

McAuley High School

Bubbie Wharepapa,
Grace  Kautai

"Brothers And Sisters"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Jack Speedy

"Don't Call Me Home"

Wakatipu High School



"Face It"

Gisborne Girls' High School


"Fire and Flame"

St Peter's College

Lara Middleton


Kaipara College

TylAH Morley,
Lourise Pretorius

"Fly Like A bird"

Edgecumbe College

Arieal Middleton,

"Grow Up"

Gisborne Girls' High School




Rangitoto College



"Korero Mai"

Gisborne Girls' High School


Layana Keelan,
berny tupou


Gisborne Girls' High School



Macleans College


"Shining Star"

Kaipara College


"Small but Strong"

Gisborne Girls' High School


"Speak Up"

Kaikohe Christian School

Josh Shortt,
Henry Chafer,
max irwin

"The ones Who Stayed"

St Kentigern College

nikau grace chater

"This is my Day"

Rotorua Girls' High School

Erin Moore

"this Time

Aquinas College


Skye Kawhena-Nepia,
ratu pourau


Gisborne Girls' High School

Mitchell Wiramanaden,
Katie Harris,
Jade Bradnock,
L'Oreale Neemia-Phillipps,
James Tortoza,
Elle Corlett

"When you're ready"

Wairarapa College

Voice of Our Youth
Full Finalist List


Aliya Ali,
Giana-Lee Moore

"Best Days Of Our Lives "

Gisborne Girls' High School

Briar James,
Lucy Davis

"Cathedrals Of Promises"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Jasmine Lemoa,
Meliame Funaki

"Colour of Love"

Mangere College

Latiana Tiitii Matau,
Rachit Kumar,
Wesley Tu'u,
Isaia Rayno-Paiti


Papatoetoe High School



"Fly Away"

Wellington High School & Com Ed Centre

Amelia Clarkson,
Joel Rosie


Taieri College

Caillou Moka


Manurewa High School


billie comer

"Help me Remember"

Wakatipu High School


"Hopelessly In Love With You"

Whangaparaoa College

Grace Lee

"I Like it here"

ACG ParnellCollege

Caitlin Stewart,
Keisha Hollands,
Philippa King,
Shaquita Johnson


Taieri College

William Quinn

"Lives of the Indecisive"

Manurewa High School

Maxx Turu,
Leo Burkett

"Look at me now"

Taieri College

Molly pawson


Napier Girls High School

Daniel Ruthven,
Ella Coudret,
Lucas Jones


Taieri College

Ella Aitken,
Robert Hannaford,
Tyler Little

"No Signal"

Taieri College

Aryan Thakkar,
Milo Lindsay,
Aaron Ko,
Zachary Saunders,
Elia Inglis

"Nothing to Fear"

Albany Junior High School

Sam Anderson,
Mat Harrison,
Zak Culverwell,
Zac Masterton,
Dylan Smith

"Officially Trash"

Kaipara College

Aliszae Otene

"Oh, Old Friend"

Papakura High School

Mia Coldicott


Garin College


"Stay With Me"

James Hargest College

Gabrielle Lolohea,
Dylan Holt,
Elsie Hita,
Reedyn Russell-Faliu,
Pio Mona

"Still into you"

Papatoetoe High School

Marara Mahue,
Keira Evison

"Teenage Repeat"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Wairere Lewis,
Abigail Moa


Gisborne Girls' High School

Leo mwape

"To be young and alive"

Palmerston North Boys' High School

Meryl Gogolashvili

"ugly Girl"

Epsom Girls' Grammar School

Te  Raipine Rangiuaia,
Bailey Chaffey


Gisborne Girls' High School

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

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.