Young Māori AFL player doing for “Pops and Nan”
13 Mar, 2019
18-year-old Akuhata King is one of a handful of Māori players in the AFL New Zealand Premiership held at QBE Satadium in Auckland.
The former Manurewa High School student grew up playing rugby league and says he never set foot on an Australian Football League field until a couple of years ago. He’s now into his second year of playing the sport and has found himself playing for the Northern Suns in the AFL NZ Premiership. He says his “Pops and Nan” raised him to believe AFL wasn’t the sport for him but is determined to go as far as he can in the sport in their honour.
“Here I am Pops and Nan, I’m here to do it for you fullahs,” he says.
King has aspirations to one day play in the professional ranks in Australia and has been taking tips off of his younger brother. “[He’s] been helping me out, giving me touches on the sport, so yeah big ups to him,” Akuhata says.
The sport, which is played on an oval-shaped field, often the size of cricket fields, requires a lot of running as well as physical strength, “coming from a boy from up north, yeah you just look at it as just another sport, just another day of running,” King says.
However, he also says his background in rugby league has helped him transition into AFL.
“Footwork, agility, passing, talking. Just coordinating with everyone, yeah it’s really helpful.”
King, who hails from Karetu in the Bay of Islands, believes many more Māori can find enjoyment in the sport, that is commonly seen with negative stereotypes.
“Just get out there have a jam,” he says. “Feel the vibe, and just stay positive towards everything.”
Advice he says can be applied to all walks of life, “You’re just wasting your time being angry, and you know having a lot of negative thoughts on AFL, or Aussies on it’s own.”
The 4 team AFL NZ Premiership is halfway through its 4th season now, with another 4 rounds to go before the finals on April 14th.
Story – Maori TV