Having someone like music industry icon Mike Chunn hear your original music, is one thing. Having someone of that calibre encourage you to submit your music for a competition, is what you’d call “next level!” Ella Barwick who attends Pukekohe High School, was at a recording studio when Mike Chunn heard her song “Last Day”. A quick email from Mike followed, encouraging Ella to enter the 2017 Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition. The annual competition is run in conjunction with the Play It Strange Charitable Trust. Songwriters from secondary schools across New Zealand are able to enter. Fifteen year old Ella was named as one of the finalists and is ecstatic. “As a finalist, I receive a recording anywhere in New Zealand worth over $750! Plus a $50 gift voucher, a certificate, and my song will feature online at Play It Strange.” Head of Music at Pukekohe High School, Simon Schofield, says Ella is quiet and unassuming when you first meet her. “Once she’s on stage though and begins singing, she transforms completely! With a beautiful voice and wonderful presence, she holds an audience in the palm of her hand. They are simply spellbound by her performance.” There must be something in the water readers, as there’s just so much talent in the Franklin / North Waikato area.