National Choral Composition Competition

by Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand Trust

Compose Aotearoa! is a national initiative to stimulate the creation of new and diverse New Zealand music for choirs. Designed as an annual competition facilitated by the national body managing our four national choirs, Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand Trust, Compose Aotearoa! will be a rewarding pathway for young as well as established composers to produce new work. This is the fourth competition.

For over four decades our national choirs have benefitted from and contributed to the creation of new New Zealand choral works. With this competition we aim to encourage the development of choral writing in New Zealand and provide a high quality performance opportunity for these works. We invite submissions for choral works suitable for performance by any one of the three choirs.

Click here to see the 2023 winners

Past winners:


Competition regulations

2024 deadline: 01 October 11pm
  • The work should be for a choir of up to 60 voices, must have a minimum divisi of four parts (SATB) and maximum eight parts (SSAATTBB). We welcome solo roles, although compositions should be primarily choral in focus, and text in any language.
  • The work may be a cappella OR accompanied by up to three instruments, eg a piano and two trumpets; a violin, and viola and a cello.
  • The work should be approx. 3 – 8 minutes in duration
  • Submitted works should not have been published or publically performed. No arrangements of existing works will be considered.
  • Composers may submit ONE WORK PER YEAR to the competition. Works can be submitted to ONE of the following three categories.
  1. Open category – prize $2,000
  2. Composers aged 25 years and under – prize $2,000
  3. Waiata with substantial Te Reo Māori content (70%-100%) – prize $2,000

    An additional prize valued at $1,000
    will be awarded to a category winner in form of travel, per diems and other costs associated with the invitation to join one of the national choirs as Composer in Residence to progress the work for performance.

    Category winners will become SOUNZ Composers. A SOUNZ composer has a profile page on  which lists their works, commissions, performances, films/audio, etc. and provides worldwide visibility.
  • The competition is open to NZ citizens and NZ residents only.
  • The competition will be judged by the national choirs’ music directors and one external judge. The decision of the judges is final and not contestable.
  • Composers must have obtained copyright for any text used in the work. If the composer has
    written the text, please note this clearly on your submission (ie Text by composer).
  • Copyright on the music is retained by the composer.
  • The winners of the competition shall grant Choirs NZ the right to premiere the winning piece within 12 months of announcement of the winners, and record the piece (audio or video) within one year of that premiere performance. Choirs NZ will have the non-exclusive rights to perform the piece in perpetuity. All winning works should be marked with “One of the winning entries of the Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand Compose Aotearoa! Competition 2023″ on the music score cover or in the concert programme, whenever possible.
  • Previous category winners are not eligible to enter the same category the year after winning. Composer in Residence winners will not be considered for this role for a further three years. 
  • Works must be submitted as PDFs and MP3’s. The score should be laid out using conventional choral formatting and ready for duplication. Care should be taken with word underlay. Composers grant the choir permission to make further copies for performance at no additional fee. The composer’s name should NOT appear anywhere on the submitted score. An MP3 audio file of a computer realisation also needs to be submitted.
  • Choirs NZ reserves the right to award no prizes in one or more categories if scores do not reach satisfactory standard.
  • Choirs NZ reserves the right to change competition rules without notice.

Deadline for submission will be 11pm on 01 October 2024.

For any enquiries please contact Lee Martelli-Wood,

We gratefully acknowledge the Patrons of  Compose Aotearoa! Trevor and Carol Kempton.

Composing for Choir – past competition judge’s feedback

  •  If you would like to view our judges feedback of our previous competition entries – email us at