2023 Results

First Place in the 2023 Youthtown Songwriting Competition is
Rachel Stevens from Otumoetai College, with her song ‘Out of My Mind’

First place receives a $500 Rockshop voucher
2nd and 3rd place receive a $100 Rockshop voucher

ALL finalists will have their song recorded in a professional recording studio (one day up to the value of $750 plus GST) to go on the 2023 Youthtown Songwriting Competition Aotearoa digital album.

CONGRATULATIONS to winners and finalists listed below!

To all entrants, thank you for entering and sharing your original songs with us

First Place


“Out of My Mind”

Otumoetai College

second Place


“woulds & shoulds”

Home School




Papamoa College


If you are a winner or finalist please read the important information regarding the prize of professionally recording your song here. Finished recordings are due on Friday 14th of July (we can be flexible - please contact us).

You will also receive a certificate and further information sent to you at school.

Full Finalist List

Lebron Cosgrave


St Patrick's College

Tyree Wall


Taupo-nui-a-Tia College

Nikau Grace Chater


Rotorua Girls' High School

Maggie Burke

"Chocolate & Backstreets"

Otamatea High School

Nalisa Puā


Epsom Girls' Grammar School

Tiana Lameko
SYDNEY Sauaso-Rasch
SARAH Tuakalau


Papatoetoe High School

Mala Januszkiewicz


Wakatipu High School

Coral Parsons
Bella schmelz

"Devil's Paradise"

Gisborne Girls' High School


Zeya Finn


Glendowie College

Salome Tamale
Praise Moeau

"Find Your Way"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Jenny Petegem Thach

"Flame in the Dark"

Taieri College

Nikita Schwass
Jasmine Reynolds

"Forgotten Futures"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Greer Castle
Milly McLaren


Wellington Girls' College


Vinney Haynes
OlLiE SutclifFe


Papamoa College

Carys Holmes
Mia Blot

"Golden Rule"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Sancy Prabhakar

"good Girl"

Mt Albert Grammar School

Lyra Woolley

"Half the World Away"

Logan Park High School

Phoebe Jin
Nittya Bapat
Theodore Jackson
Breanna Liu-Flowers

"Happy Days"

Lynfield College

Talatau Tuiloma
Mika Kaisala
Israel Samuel


Tangaroa College

Theo Bowland

"I Got a Job"

Kings College

Grace Gemmell


Bayfield High School

Essence Puha-McGrath

"Keep on Fighting"

Manurewa High School

martha komornicki
Freddy Komornicki
Leo Cotter
Mitchell Brooks

"Lady Brandon"

Kaipara College

Taylah Mederios

"Leading You On"

Papamoa College

Max  Horn


Wellington College

Tali Whiteridge

"Look for the Light"

Wellington Girls' College

Areeya Bernabe


Tuakau College

Teifi Clarke
Mia Rose

"Love Me Like a River"

Gisborne Girls' High School


Izzy Robinson

"Only Human"

New Plymouth Girls' High School

first PLACE

Rachel Stevens

"Out Of My Mind"

Otumoetai College

Jacob King

"Raise Your Hand"

Hauraki Plains College

Charles Lia

"Read the Letter"

Manurewa High School

Zac Masterton
Zak Culverwell
Matai Harrison
Dylan Smith

"Shadow on the Wall"

Kaipara College

Keziah Wray
Bella Scott-Haenga

"She isn't Me"

Gisborne Girls' High School

Arlia Potauaine
Simone Hidalgo


Lynfield College

Saye Kiuchi

"Sorry Mum"

Epsom Girls' Grammar School

Charlotte Belz

"Sun On My Skin"

St Paul's Collegiate (Hamilton)

Alyahna Sanson-Rejouis

"Te Mana"

Nelson College For Girls

Zellton Samuel
Noah Leef-Mahoni
Jay Blair
Dakston Shelford
Vadim Phillips-Fawdray

"The Comeback"

Papatoetoe High School

Jaymie Ledington

"The Mirror"

Southland Girls' High School

Caitlin Hsaio
Amelie Skeates

"The Sun Goes Down"

Lynfield College

Grace Duncan


Otumoetai College

Tamara douit

"We Went High"

Papamoa College

Mila Jones

"World Away"

ACG Tauranga


Piper Grant

"woulds & Shoulds"

Home school


This competition is focussed on secondary school-aged songwriters, years 9, 10 and 11, themed around being a teenager in Aotearoa Youthtown and Play It Strange want to hear your voice, what you have to say, wrapped up in a song that is yours.

The recording and performance quality of the entry is not taken into account in the judging process.


The 2023 competition will have a FIRST, SECOND and THIRD place chosen from 45 finalists throughout Aotearoa

1st Place receives a $500 Rockshop voucher
2nd and 3rd Place receive a $100 Rockshop voucher

ALL finalists will have their song recorded in a professional recording studio (one day to the value of $750 plus gst) to go on the 2023 Youthtown Songwriting Competition Aotearoa digital album

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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

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