Nominees for 2020 AFL New Zealand U18 Player of the Year

The AFL New Zealand High Performance Awards recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the very best in athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and volunteers and what they offer to the development of AFL in Aotearoa.


The scheduling of the awards for its eighth year was due to take place on April 4th. Due to COVID-19, this will now take place electronically and we encourage you to support those involved and their efforts.

The winner’s will be announced via the AFL New Zealand website and social media platforms in the coming weeks.

AFL New Zealand would like to congratulate the following nominees for the 2020 AFL New Zealand U18 Player of the Year.


Congratulations to all the nominees!


Ahkuhata King

Manurewa Raiders star Ahku King burst onto the Premiership scene in 2019 and was rewarded with a spot on the Northern Suns retained list for 2020.

A rather unknown in the AFL community, King produced some stunning football throughout the 2019 season and was selected as part of the U18 NZ squad to travel to Melbourne in April last season.

With more confidence in his game, King is continuing to grow into an all round footballer.


Jonah Christians

Jonah Christians has been involved with the AFL New Zealand pathway for the past 4 years, playing in the Youth competition, Academy and representing NZ at age group level.

Jonah’s fitness and game awareness are his strong attributes and has made the move to Melbourne to further his footballing career.

Originally from Wellington, Christians was picked up by the Northern Suns during the 2018 National Draft and had a strong 2019 season at the top level.

Jonah was one of the best for the NZ U18’s against Hallam College last year.


Kenta Ukita

Originally from Japan, Canterbury based Kenta Ukita had a dream debut in his first Premiership game for the Southern Saints in Round 1, 2019 and picked up the Rising Star Award.

The young talent provided a heap of defensive pressure and showed no fear getting involved in contests with players twice his size.

Ukita represented New Zealand at U18 level in Melbourne last April and was drafted to the Northern Suns for the 2020 Premiership season.

Kenta was pushing for a spot in the Japanese side for the 2020 International Cup.


Sam Cairns

Sam Cairns was born in Titahi Bay in Wellington and now resides in Queensland.

The 19 year old captained the New Zealand U18 side during the 2019 Melbourne campaign and showed tremendous leadership both off and off the field.

Sam is determined to be apart of the New Zealand Falcons senior side and has the drive, skill and character to make it in the future.


Thomas Turner

Cantabrian Thomas Turner had a breakout year in his first season of Premiership footy in 2019.

Picked up by the Southern Saints in the National Draft, Turner was consistent all season and is fast developing into skillful midfielder.

Fast and evasive, Turner was included in the U18 New Zealand Falcons side to travel to Melbourne and was one of the standout players.