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“Frankincense” gifts gold to Spelling Bee champ

Marlborough Boys’ College Year 10 student George Turner spelled the word “frankincense” correctly yesterday to be named New Zealand Spelling Bee 2018 champion at City Gallery.

In his second run at the national competition Turner triumphed over hundreds of students from more than 100 schools, after coming runner-up in the 2017 competition. He takes away the Spelling Bee trophy and $5000 towards his academic pursuits, in addition to the title.

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 national final at the City Art Gallery in Wellington.

“It was great to be able to come back and win this year and finally finish it off,” said Turner, 14, whose interests include reading, writing, swimming and gaming.

The three runners-up contestants in the final round all misspelled words. They were Ben White of Trident High School in Whakatane and home-schooled Christchurch student Bernadette Barrett (both Year 10 students), 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.

Teachers interested in signing up for the 2019 programme can find out more at