The Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition

The Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition is New Zealand’s national secondary school songwriting competition, and has yielded thousands of entries from all around the country over the past ten years. This competition is open to all New Zealand secondary school students – years 9-13.

Here is the chance to have your song recorded at a professional recording studio to the value of $750.00. Over forty songs are professionally recorded, mastered and included on the annual Play It Strange CD.

Each writer receives twenty copies of this CD, which is also made available as a free download.

The winning songs that go onto the Play It Strange CD are enjoyed and embraced by many – school communities, whanau, peers and the wider music community. This competition celebrates and embraces the voice of our youth through song.

First place also receives a $1000 NZ Rockshop voucher.

Our judging panel does not take the entry’s recording quality into account. Each song is judged equally 50% lyrics and 50% composition.

  • You are not required to perform your own song for the entry recording
  • The song can be entered by a group or by an individual
  • Only one entry per person may be entered

Find out more about entering at Play It Strange.


If you are the sole composer and/or lyric writer of the song entered, you may request Play It Strange to have your song assessed for Music Composition Levels 1,2 or 3 and /or English Standards Level 1.

Find out more at Play It Strange.


There are several awards within the Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition:

  • Junior Maioha Award – best song in Te Reo Māori
  • Play It Strange Samoa – best two songs from Samoa
  • David Richwhite Lyric Award – best lyrics
  • Cheese On Toast Award – best alternative song
  • PwC School of the Year Award – to the school with the most songs in the finalists.

Find out more at Play It Strange.


Since 2001, the Musicians Mentoring in Schools Programme has connected New Zealand’s top musical artists with emerging young talent in schools from Kaitaia to Invercargill. More than 150 artists have shared their expertise in songwriting, instrumental and vocal technique, recording technology, and music industry insight – including Jon Toogood, Maisey Rika, Three Houses Down, and Ria Hall.

Find out more at NZ Music Commission.