Alex Leckie-Zaharic did not let ''arthritis'' get in the way
of him winning a major regional competition in Dunedin
The John McGlashan College 13-year-old does not have
arthritis, but it was the word he spelled correctly that won
him the New Zealand Spelling Bee lower South Island regional
He battled with 13 of the top year 9 and 10 spellers from
schools south of Timaru for one of two places in the 2014 New
Zealand Spelling Bee national final in Wellington on October
18, sponsored by School's Out.
Alex was delighted after duelling it out for several rounds
with eventual runner-up, Logan Park High School pupil George
Sabonadiere (13), and spelling his way to the top of the
Both he and George will represent the lower South Island at
the national final.
Alex said the secret to his success was simple - books.
''I've liked books ever since I was little. I've always got a
book in my hand.
''I learnt to spell through reading - I love words.''
Both were eagerly anticipating the competition in the
national final, and both agreed it would be another step up
from the competition they faced yesterday.
Alex said he hoped to read at least another 20 to 30 books
between now and the national final, in preparation for the
''Hopefully, I'll learn some words I haven't come across
The pair will be among 18 of New Zealand's top spellers from
five main centres and each will be vying for the $5000 cash
prize and the much-coveted title of New Zealand's 10th
national spelling bee champion.
The New Zealand Spelling Bee was established in 2004 and has
engaged hundreds of schools and thousands of children in its
quest to improve Kiwi kids' spelling.