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News and Media Releases

Finn Lewis - Winner of NZSB 2016

 October 23 2016

Spelling Bee 2016 Winner Finn Lewis

Congratulations Finn, the winner of the New Zealand Spelling Bee 2016!  Read more about Finn and his achievement on this Stuff article.


Watch Spellbound 2016 OnDemand


Watch Spellbound 2016 OnDemand

Watch all three episodes of Spellbound 2016 OnDemand.  


Interview with Hugh on More FM

October 10 2016

Interview with Hugh on More FM - Spellbound 2016

Click here to hear the interview


The cool teens of Spellbound

October 10 2016 - The Spinoff

Spellbound 2016

The New Zealand Spelling Bee finals have made it to TVNZ 1’s Spellbound. It’s like a 3-hour long penalty shootout where you don’t want anyone to miss, writes Calum Henderson.  Read the whole article here


DATE 17 October 2015

Meritocracy wins ‘War of the Words ‘

After 11 rounds of arduous spelling against 17 of the country’s top spellers, Isobella Nicholls became New Zealand’s 11th Spelling Bee Champion.

Isobella - 2015 New Zealand Spelling Bee Winner

Isobella, aged 14 from Carmel College, Auckland, correctly spelled ‘meritocracy’, meaning ‘government selected according to merit.’ After a tense final round against Rosie Brazendale, from Collingdale Area School, Golden Bay, Isobella was crowned the 2015 New Zealand Spelling Bee Champion.

Isobella and Rosie had survived ten cut-throat rounds after 16 fellow competitors had been eliminated by the ring of the judges’ bell. Isobella had previously shown her orthography skills by calmly spelling words including ‘leprechaun’, ‘demagogue,’ ‘recidivist’ and ‘oligopoly’.

In the final round, Rosie tripped on ‘profligacy’. This handed Isobella the title.

Isobella - 2015 winner in actionIsobella looked surprised and thrilled when she realised the title was hers.

“I really wanted to win but I never thought I would,” she said. ‘Luck played a part as I didn’t know some of the words the other competitors got.”

Isobella is the sixth female winner in the past eleven years. As well as the Champion title, she won $5,000 prize money.

Isobella, a self-confessed bibliophile, says she normally has four or five books on the go and often borrows the maximum amount of books – 35 at a time from her library.

“My pocket money usually goes on buying new books and paying library fines.”

Previously, thousands of college students from around the country had competed in a Spelling Bee test to determine the top 200 spellers, who then advanced to regional spelling bees in August. The 18 finalists qualified at these events.

Janet Lucas, Spelling Bee Event Organiser, says she always finds the final intense and this one was no exception.

“Just one letter left off or in the wrong place and you’re out. It is really a competition against the dictionary, but the spellers love it; it's fiercely competitive but in a fun way.”

Ultimately students learn spelling rules, letter patterns and blends and look at the origins of words. The best thing about it is they have all learned new words which they will have for the rest of their lives.”

‘Schools Out’ Before and After School Care and Holiday Programme is the Spelling Bee sponsor. ‘School’s Out’ has provided the support for the Spelling Bee to build a classroom resource and Teacher’s Awards, as well as providing all the Bee’s usual running costs.

“Without its support we could not run the bee,” says Janet.

‘School’s Out’ is committed to New Zealand children’s literacy. Wayne and Chloe Wright head the Wright Family Trust, which is the owner-operator of School’s Out. The Wrights are also the owner-operators of BestStart Education and Care centres.

The school programme has hundreds of primary schools signing up to be part of classroom spelling bees.

Download as a PDF (203KB)  Includes New Zealand Spelling Bee background information.



News - October 2014

National spelling bee's nail-biting finale - TVNZ

Watch it here

Spelling bee winner far from 'lugubrious' - Stuff

Dunedin teenager George Sabonadiere has been crowned this year's National Spelling Bee champion.

The 13-year-old Logan Park High School student overcame the vocabularies of 15 other year nine and 10 students at the national finals in Wellington today.


Spelling champ d-e-l-i-g-h-t-e-d - Otago Daily Time

George Sabonadiere loves words, and there is one he loves more than most.

That is E-U-G-E-N-I-C-S, the word he successfully spelt to claim theNew Zealand Spelling Bee Champion title on Saturday.


Media Release  - Wednesday 26 February 2014

New Zealand Spelling Bee is T-E-N


B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y is the big word for The New Zealand Spelling Bee, which marked its tenth anniversary this week with a celebration at which the Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata officiated.

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