Wellington City Council has been forced to apologise to multi-award winning lyricist Sir Tim Rice, after the word "Israel" was removed from his work being used for a children's festival.

Lyrics from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat were being used as part of Wellington's annual children's festival, Artsplash.

But the song sheets soon sparked controversy, after the line "Children of Israel" was changed to "Children of Kindness".

Questions were raised on Twitter by Kate Dowling, who asked why it was done.


That tweet prompted a response from Rice himself, who warned he hadn't given permission for any changes.

He described the "totally unauthorised" change of lyrics as "a terribly drippy and meaningless alteration".

Wellington City Council moved quickly to fix the mess, apologising and telling Rice they loved his work.

Rice left it at that, telling the council he appreciated the speedy correction.

Artsplash Coordinator Mary Prichard told Fairfax the change was made to "keep life simple" at a festival for primary school children.

After the complaints about the lyric changes, organisers decided to remove the song from its programme entirely, rather than change them back.

Prichard said it wasn't worth it to go "looking for trouble".