Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition

Competition closed for 2018
Winner and finalist results posted on website - 3pm Friday 24th August


The National Secondary School Songwriting Competition is the flagship programme of the Play It Strange Trust. The finalists (usually numbering 50) 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.


All the entries are listened to and judged by an experienced panel. Each song is judged 50% on lyrics and 50% on the music.

There are three specific awards within the competition. 

Junior Maihoa (best song in Te Reo Maori)
Lyric Award (best lyrics)
School Of The Year (most songs in the final list)

Online Entry Form

2017 Winners

First Place

May Zeng (Westlake GirlsHigh School:  Auckland) took first place in our Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition with her song “Different”

She received:
- a $1,000 NZ Rockshop voucher. 
- a NZ On Air  Making Tracks grant of up to $8,000 for recording the track professionally and making a music video. The video has been conceived and
directed by Mareea Paterson.

- May has finished recording her song at Big Pop Studios.

David Richwhite Lyric Award

This year’s judge, one of NZ's favourite songwriters Jordan Luck enjoyed the task of reading and absorbing the lyric song-sheets from the Lion Foundation Songwriting Competitions finalist list.

His reaction to the song he chose, "When lyrics read really well without the melody, without the music, they are magical poems.  I enjoy looking up the meanings of words.  I enjoy looking up characters.  "Who Cares About The Haters" is excellent for this.  I may even watch "Dr Phil" or "iCarly" one day.”

We thank Jordan for his care and appreciation of the lyrics this year, and David Richwhite for his ongoing support of this special award and indeed Play It Strange.

Junior Maioha Award

The Junior Maioha Award for best song in te reo Maori in the Lion Foundation Song Competition went to:

Hunter  Varly & Ashlee  Walker-Jones from Gisborne Girls High for their song IPU MAUMAHARA.

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.


The winner of the Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition for 2017 is May Zeng (Westlake Girls High School; Auckland) with her song “Different”

The Play It Strange PWC School Of The Year is Papatoetoe High School with 7 songs.

The rest of the finalists are listed here in alphabetical order by song title :  

1.     ‘A Different Way’ by Matthew Beardsworth, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu The Correspondence School
2.     ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Niamh Athy, Gisborne Girls' High School
3.     ‘Berlin’ by Rebecca Lauryssen, Wakatipu High School; Queenstown 
4.     ‘Blue Skied Baby’ by Bryre Aish, Hamilton Girls' High School
5.     ‘Boy In The Garde’ by Teuila Brown and Heidi Watson, Green Bay High School; Ak 
6.     ‘Brave’ by Rebekah Walton, Long Bay College; Ak 
7.     ‘Changing Wind’ by Cascade Price, Spotswood College; New Plymouth 
8.     ‘Chillin the SOUTH$IDE’ by Lazarus Tanaki, Storm Tanaki and Tanu Vasiagote, Papatoetoe High School; Ak 
9.     ‘Colours’ by Katrina Porter, Otumoetai College; Tauranga 
10.  ‘Cotton Sheets’ by Laura Griffiths, Sacred Heart Girls' College (New Plymouth)
11.  ‘Departed Youth’ by Libby McDonald, Marlborough Girls’ College
12.  ‘Divine Wind’ by Jack Stenning, Taine Ngatai, Teone Wilkinson and Daniel Way, Kaipara College; Helensville 
13.  ‘Europe’ by Molly Ferguson, Epsom Girls' Grammar School ; Ak
14.  ‘Family’ by PJ Telea, Christmas Ale and Joseph Oti-George, Manurewa High School ; Ak
15.  ‘Fighter’ by Tina Lilomaiava and Moses Taala, Manurewa High School
16.  ‘Find’ by Ella McLennan, Hauraki Plains College
17.  ‘Fix It's (and Favours)’ by Belinda Hopman, Papatoetoe High School; Ak 
18.  ‘Flower in a Wasteland’ by Cameron Halberg, Liston College
19.  ‘Friends’ by Mihingarangi Tamihana-Brown and Carmen Jade Mitai, Gisborne Girls' High School
20.  ‘Glass Memories’ by Charlotte Jackson, Epsom Girls' Grammar School; Ak 
21.  ‘Hindsight’ by Jesse Weldschidt, Papatoetoe High School
22.  ‘Holding On’ by Bella Ford and George White, St Andrew's College (Christchurch)
23.  ‘Honchos’ by Phoenix Sipa and Logan Wishart, Kaipara College; Helensville 
24.  ‘I Can See’ by Kaleesha Messent (Hamilton Girls High) and Jacob Brown, (Hamilton Boys' High School)
25.  ‘I Thought Weird Is Interesting’ by Joshua Fernandes, Papatoetoe High School; Ak
26.  ‘Ipu Maumahara’ by Hunter Varly and Ashlee Walker-Jones; Gisborne Girls' High School
27.  ‘Is This Love’ by Tequilla Moses; Manurewa High School; Ak
28.  ‘Jack’s Song’ by Mouse Varcoe; Waikato Diocesan School For Girls; Hamilton
29.  ‘Jestsam And Flotsam’ by Grace David; Diocesan School For Girls; Ak
30.  ‘Just A Moment’ by Naamah Cheiban; Hauraki Plains College
31.  ‘Last Day’ by Ella Barwick; Pukekohe High School; Ak
32.  ‘Leave It On The Edge, Honey’ by Cuba Rust, Neive Strang, Mary Locker, Rikke Kikkawa-McLeod; Logan Park High School; Dunedin 

Finalists Continued

1.     ‘Life Without These Scars’ by Tegan Nott; Garin College; Nelso
2.     ‘Lookalike’ by Salima Sualah; Green Bay High School; Ak
3.     ‘Lost In Time’ by Heidi Simpson; Green Bay High School; Ak
4.     ‘Marionette’ by Woojin Kim; Albany Senior High School; Ak
5.     ‘Medicine’ by Madeleine Harrop; St Kevins College; Oamaru
6.     ‘Metaphorically Speaking’ by Lochlin Toner; Havelock North High School
7.     ‘Mindset’ by Lottie Mollison; Otumoetai College; Tauranga
8.     ‘Miraculous Love’ by Skylah Hewett; Papatoetoe High School; Ak
9.     ‘Monster’ by Genoveva Reverte-Neal; Thames High School
10.  ‘My God Is So Good’ by Ianetta Solomon-Brown; Baradene College; Ak
11.  ‘Normandy’ by Logan McAllister; St Andrew’s College; Christchurch
12.  ‘Once Upon A Postcard’ by James Constable; Rangiora College
13.  ‘Paris’ by Tessa Olsson; Otumoetai College; Tauranga
14.  ‘’Problem At Home’ by Alice Mander, Jamie Godfrey; Diocesan School for Girls; Ak
15.  ‘Pucker Up’ by Sam Raumati; Spotswood College; New Plymouth
16.  ‘Reach Out’ by Sianne Dougherty; Te Kura (Correspondence School)
17.  ‘Rebuild’ by Kaylus Waenga, Jamie Dickson-Hards; Papatoetoe High School; Ak
18.  ‘Red On The Hills’ by Lily Fitzgerald and Amicee Miller; Campion College;  Gisborne
19.  ‘Regret It’ by Henry Ape; Manurewa High School; Ak
20.  ‘Saturday Night Neophyte’ by Molly Payton; Baradene College; Ak
21.  ‘Save Yourself’ by Hiran Greening, Zion Lee-Deller, Takerei Porou-Wetere, Anaru Turangi-Joseph; Tai Wananga; Hamilton
22.  ‘Seuke Si Eku Lupe’ by Anometa Tonga and Naua Tatafu; Gisborne Girls High
23.  ‘Skin’ by Brooke Allen and Jasmine Burgess; Gisborne Girls' High School
24.  ‘Small Town’ by Sam Cullen; Verdon College;  Invercargill
25.  ‘Sunshine And Rain’ by Matisse Reynolds and Carlo Marinovich; Kaipara College
26.  ‘Take me Away’ by Matt Clarkson; Bayfield High School; Dunedin
27.  ‘The Game We Play’ by Campbell MacKenzie; Ak Grammar School
28.  ‘The Name Of The Song Is A Secret’ by Bryony Roberts; Kaipara College
29.  ‘Today’ by Caleb Looker, Reminess Symons, Kesniel Setefano, Rizwan Mohammed, Jesse Simi-Tuiala, Sione Makasini, Moana Uatahausi; Papatoetoe High; Ak
30.  ‘Transparent’ by Letitia Mackenzie; Hauraki Plains College
31.  ‘Who Cares About The Haters’ by Ishell-Kathleen Runga and Abigail Wanoa; Gisborne Girls' High School
The Play It Strange PWC School Of The Year is Papatoetoe High School with 7 songs.


Junior Maioha Award- best song in Te Reo Māori:

IPU MAUMAHARA - Hunter  Varly & Ashlee  Walker-Jones
Gisborne Girls High

David Richwhite Lyric Award – best lyrics:

Ishell-Kathleen  Runga & Abigail  Wanoa
Gisborne Girls High

All past Lion Foundation Songwriting Competiton finalists

Result archives