Wellington student Finn Lewis wins TV gameshow Spellbound
The key to being a good speller is not memorising words, it's reading lots of books.
That's the advice from Wellington's newly crowned champion of TVNZ game show Spellbound, which wound up with Sunday night's grand final at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
He won with the word "ostensible".
Finn Lewis, 14, a student at Newlands College, said he had never been that interested in being a gun speller until the game show came round.
"I really like reading, but I don't necessarily want to win a whole lot of spelling competitions. It's mainly just I'm quite good at spelling."
Finn has developed a stutter in recent years, making his achievement in front of the television cameras even more impressive.
But he said the stutter did not seem to affect him when spelling. "You don't stutter when you sing, because it's in a different voice, and you're using your vocal cords in a different way.
"It's the same thing with spelling a word, because you're not saying the words, you are saying the letters."
History books had given him the depth of knowledge to acquire the words needed to win a competition such as this, he said.
"But another factor which may have helped was, a couple of times when I've been bored, I've started to read the dictionary."
Lewis had to get through his heat earlier this month to reach the grand final, and estimated he spelled about 30 words to claim the title, not dropping a single one.
He was nearly stumped on one occasion, but that was when his historical knowledge came through.
"The language of origin [of the word] can help quite a bit. The difference between a Greek word and a French word, for example, is quite large."
The television cameras did not bother him, he said.
"As I got on the stage and started to get into things more, I kind of started to feel a little bit more at home.
"After you've talked to the other people in your group backstage, they become more your friends than your rivals."
Mum Lynley Lewis said she could not be more proud of Finn's achievement.
"Six months ago, he was really struggling to string a sentence together.
"For him to be able to stand up on stage and speak, I'm more proud of that than of the spelling achievement."
Lewis won a trophy, $5000 towards his studies and $1500 spending money.