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2017 New Zealand Spelling Bee champion crowned!

2017 New Zealand Spelling Bee champion crowned!

28 October 2017: Christchurch Year 10 student Lucy Jessep has today triumphed over hundreds of students from more than 100 schools to win the title of New Zealand Spelling Bee champion 2017.

Twenty-one of New Zealand’s top spellers battled it out for the coveted title of 2017 New Zealand Spelling Bee champion at the event’s riveting tension-filled national final at Te Papa in Wellington.

Lucy, of St Margaret’s College, takes away the spelling bee trophy and $5000 towards her academic pursuits, in addition to the coveted title of New Zealand Spelling Bee champion.

Lucy, who is a keen debater and loves learning languages, correctly spelled the word ‘pusillanimous’ to take out the title.

Lucy says she was just focused on “not getting out in the first round”, and because of that she didn’t consider winning. After the final she said she was amazed she won and it was “still sinking in”.

Runner-up was Year 9 student George Turner of Marlborough Boys’ College. In a tightly fought competition, Lucy and George battled it out for first place over four rounds.

New Zealand Spelling Bee founder Janet Lucas says it was a nail-biting final which was fitting for a competition in which the talent was stronger than ever.

“Lucy did incredibly well to triumph in such a strong field. This was the toughest and longest competition we have ever had. We have seen some truly amazing spelling today,” says Janet.



“The New Zealand Spelling Bee is fiercely competitive in a fun way. It’s a sport with an intellectual focus – students train and prepare to compete, and it’s clear from the excellent results that they trained hard.”

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 13th 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.

The New Zealand Spelling Bee has become a much-loved annual event and has seen tens of thousands of students participate since it started in 2005.

Its inspiration was Spellbound, a documentary film about the US-based Scripps National Spelling Bee. Last year the New Zealand Spelling Bee final was televised in a TVNZ show, also called Spellbound.

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 www.spellingbee.co.nz


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