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Vermonters Lend Their Boots to Students Visiting From New Zealand

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The teens performing a haka - COURTESY OF MARSHA COX
  • Courtesy Of Marsha Cox
  • The teens performing a haka

A group of New Zealand students visiting Vermont this week has a new appreciation for walking in someone else's shoes. Morristown residents lent the 11 Kiwi teens boots so the boys could enjoy the snow during their trip to the states.

"Only in Vermont, right?" said Marsha Cox, who put out a plea for footwear on both Front Porch Forum and with staff at the Peoples Academy. "It was an unusual request."

Cox's son, Tim, lives in Hamilton, New Zealand, where his 15-year-old son plays high school basketball. After a successful season, the students decided to take a trip and held bake sales, car washes and other fundraisers for a visit to Vermont. They arrived at the Los Angeles airport on November 29 and ended up talking to the brother of New Zealand-born Boston Celtics player Aron Baynes. Through that connection, on Saturday the boys were able to go onto the Celtics court, where they performed their school haka, a ceremonial dance that is part show of strength and part introduction and welcome.

The teens later arrived in Vermont and have been getting acquainted with the Morristown area while also acting as ambassadors of the Maori culture. They've scheduled a slate of scrimmages with local basketball teams, including one held Monday night with the Peoples Academy junior varsity squad. The Kiwis "won handily," according to Cox.

Undoubtedly the highlight, said Cox, was the boys' experience in the snow. They live on the north island of New Zealand, which is more temperate than the south island. Some had never seen snow before, but they've been out — in their borrowed boots — building snowmen and sledding, Cox said.

"They look outside, and they still think it's magical and beautiful," she said. "I know some Vermonters are already getting sick of it, but if you're from the Pacific Islands, I guess this is pretty cool."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Boots Made for Sharing"

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