Aided by two crutches, Takiri Wikitera was gazing at a pair of red Nike Air Max shoes at the Foot Locker in Westfield St Lukes on Friday.
The 13-year-old, who was born with cerebral palsy, had been nagging his mum Amber Wikitera to buy the shoes.
“You can go and have a look and we’ll get you the shoes after you’ve recovered,” she said to her son.
Amber said her son always wants to have a look, because they can never afford shoes from there.
Takiri had endured a lifetime of operations but was due to have one more - possibly his last - this Tuesday to correct his disability.
“So there I am sitting, waiting for him to get back and he calls out ‘mum!’”
Standing next to Takiri, now grasping his favourite shoes, was Warriors player Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who is of Cook Islands decent.
“He says, ‘hi, I just bought your son these shoes’.
“I was so overwhelmed and I ended up balling my eyes out thanking him.
“I was thinking and said, ‘How am I going to pay you back for these?’ And he said, ‘don’t worry about it’.”
Nicoll-Klokstad, who made his debut for the Warriors this year, said that he, his partner, their son and a friend had gone to get some food at the mall then stopped in at the shoe store.
“As we were looking around I saw this little boy sitting by himself looking at these really, really nice shoes - really nice shoes,” he said.
“I saw that unfortunately he had crutches and some kind of foot moulds to support his feet.”
People with disabilities have always been close to Nicoll-Klokstad’s heart because his older brother Tyson suffered from muscular dystrophy and passed away in 2010.
So the pro athlete sat down beside with the youngster and felt moved to offer to pick up the shoes for him.
“I just go, ‘Do you like those shoes?’ And he said he really did. I said, ‘We’ll get them for you then’.
“He just shot his eyes up and he said, ‘eh?’ As if I was kidding or something. But I just told him, ‘Find your size and we’ll go up to the counter.”
They bought the shoes and Nicoll-Klokstad said he was just going to leave it at that but his partner pointed out that Takiri’s family might find it a bit suspicious if he suddenly turned up with a brand new pair of expensive shoes bought by a complete stranger.
So they decided they should go and introduce themselves to Takiri’s family.
“I just popped over and said hi to Takiri’s mum, Amber ... and she sort of broke down, which was real heartwarming. So that’s just how it eventuated really.”
When Nicoll-Klokstad heard that Takiri was due to have his 10th-plus surgery on Tuesday he said it “really hit home for me”.
“I was really close with my brother Tyson and just to sort of give back to someone in his situation, I couldn’t miss that opportunity, especially being real blessed with my job and where I am at the moment. So to be able to help a little kid like that I couldn’t miss that opportunity.
“I know first-hand, I guess, the struggles of having to go through that sought of thing. My brother had operations and things like but I couldn’t say things to him like, ‘bro I’ll buy these shoes for you’ back then’, but I would if I could have.”
Takiri is a big fan of the NRL club, and has been known to play the ukulele and bongo drums at local Auckland markets to make some extra cash for tickets.
Nicoll-Klokstad has also offered to get the family tickets to the Warrior’s game this Thursday, if Takiri has recovered enough from his operation.
“I might even go visit him because we have Wednesday off just to see how he’s going.”
Nicoll-Klokstad, a 21-year-old utility player, has also represented the Cook Islands.