Nineteen of New Zealand’s top spellers, who have beaten out hundreds of Year 9 and 10 students from more than 100 secondary schools, will be put to the ultimate test this afternoon.
They’ll battle it out for the coveted title of 2018 New Zealand Spelling Bee champion at the event’s tension-filled national final in Wellington.
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.
Founder Janet Lucas is expecting a tough competition, now in its 14th year – with many of the spellers taking an extremely competitive stance for the win.
“It will be an interesting final. There are some amazing spellers, some who are in the final for the second year in a row, and many of them really want to win and have worked hard to get here.
“One of the things that’s great about the Spelling Bee is that anyone can take part – money is no barrier, which makes it fair and equal for everyone. Our sponsorship from the Wright Family Foundation means that the finalists win airfares and accommodation for themselves and a parent or caregiver to travel to the final – successful students don’t have to fundraise to get there.
“All the resources are free, so long term our hope is that every school will take part as there is no cost to it. We want it to be accessible to everyone and make it easy for teachers to include spelling in their classroom programme.”
Janet said it was a fallacy that in the age of spellcheck, knowing how to spell was not important.
“It’s actually more important than ever. By widening word knowledge, children are better able to understand and enjoy language, be it online, spoken, or in print.
“Lack of communication skills is at the root of so many problems in society. The Spelling Bee aims to increase vocabulary, leading to effective communication skills and a person’s ability to express themselves.
“The fact that the Bee grows every year proves the demand for a sport with a more intellectual focus, that is competitive and challenging in a fun way.”
The winner will receive the spelling bee trophy, $5000 towards their academic pursuits, and the coveted title of New Zealand Spelling Bee champion.
Watch the LIVE streaming from the City Gallery in Wellington here.