student throwing a gum boot

Good sport: The finer points of gumboot throwing

November 4, 2022


Each November, International Education focuses on one country for its annual celebration of International Education Week, when classes, lectures, and other activities encourage Spiders to learn and think globally. This year’s focus is Aotearoa New Zealand. (Aotearoa is the Maori name for the country.)

As part of the lead up to the week, which will be held Nov. 14-18, the University hosted a lighthearted gumboot throw on Millhiser Green. Ella McKee, an exchange student from the University of Otago in New Zealand, introduced the idea of the offbeat lawn game from her home country. In it, participants heave a rubber rain boot as far as they can manage.

McKee graciously provided some pointers for gumboot toss participants and spectators alike.

How did gumboot throwing find its way to UR’s International Education Week?

I mentioned the idea, and the IE team picked up on it and expanded it into an event. It’s a niche New Zealand thing — I think that’s why they loved the idea. In no other country would it be normal to throw gumboots. 

What do you think the competition says about New Zealanders?

I suppose in New Zealand we know how to make fun of ourselves and have a laugh, so this is just an example. 

What should the novice gumboot thrower look out for during the competition? 

I suppose I would say watch for flying gumboots. It’s like shotput, just with a gumboot. 

What’s your advice for the best possible toss?

Try to throw it as far as possible: Don't overcomplicate it, because at the end of the day you really are just throwing a gumboot. Have fun with it is the biggest advice I would give.

Are you excited that this year’s International Week features your home country?

It's cool that the International Office has such a passion about learning about New Zealand. I've lived there the majority of my life, so the things that others may find fascinating about NZ are just second nature to me. 

Why did you think this would be a good addition to the week?

It’s quintessentially New Zealand. You can tell that because everyone else thinks it is so crazy. When else in your life are you going to throw a gumboot?