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George Turner - Winner of NZSB 2018

November 3 2018

Marlborough Boys’ College Year 10 student George Turner has today been named New Zealand Spelling Bee 2018 champion - triumphing over hundreds of students from more than 100 schools – after last year coming runner-up in the national competition.

Nineteen of New Zealand’s top spellers battled it out for the coveted title of 2018 New Zealand Spelling Bee champion at the event’s riveting national final at the City Art Gallery in Wellington this afternoon.
George, 14, takes away the Spelling Bee trophy and $5000 towards his academic pursuits, in addition to the title.

George, who correctly spelled the word ‘frankincense’ to win the competition, said his win “hadn’t sunk in yet” and felt like a progression after coming runner-up in 2017.

“It was great to be able to come back and win this year and finally finish it off,” said George, whose interests include reading, writing, swimming and gaming.

There were four students left in the final round, which saw the three runners-up all misspell their words. The runners-up were: Year 10 student Ben White of Trident High School in Whakatane, Year 10 Christchurch student Bernadette Barrett (home-schooled), and year 9 Dunedin student Luca Holloway of Kavanagh College.

New Zealand Spelling Bee founder Janet Lucas said the calibre of students in the final was exceptional.

“George did incredibly well to triumph in such a strong group of spellers, and to come runner-up last year and now to be champion this year shows just how strong a competitor he is,” said Janet.

“I also want to congratulate all the spellers in the final – there were moments I thought we would have nine runners-up, as the field was so strong.”

The finalists won their places out of a field of hundreds of Year 9 and 10 students, from more than 100 secondary schools and colleges around New Zealand.

The rigorous competition began with a written classroom test, followed by six regional semi-finals held around New Zealand in which the top 200 spellers competed for one of 21 places in the final.

Now in its 14th year, the New Zealand Spelling Bee, supported by the Wright Family Foundation, is a competitive spelling event aimed at encouraging Year 0 to 10 students to gain a love of the English language. The programme improves spelling capabilities, comprehension and communication skills.

In addition to the National Spelling Bee for Year 9-10 students, the New Zealand Spelling Bee encompasses a second programme: the New Zealand Classroom Spelling Bee, for Years 0 to 8. Resources are provided free of charge for both programmes, allowing students to study word lists and learn new words, competing in classroom tests.

The New Zealand Spelling Bee has grown significantly since 2014, when the Wright Family Foundation came on board as the programme’s sole sponsor. The foundation’s support secured the event’s future, resourcing it so that the programme could be expanded into primary and intermediate schools. About 800 primary schools and intermediate schools now sign up for the classroom programme every year.

Teachers interested in signing up for the programme can find out more at

Complete list of previous NZSB champions.

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