Select Page

In January we read that the “Department of Internal Affairs is delighted to announce the release of the annual list of the most popular baby names in New Zealand for 2023”.

In 2023 37889 babies were given 18666 first names.

What can we learn about our country from those names?

Well first of all we are short-changed by the Department of Internal Affairs because for some reason they have eliminated all baby names which they think are Maori names from the list. Maia, Kaia and Aria are all counted as Maori names even though they originate from Greek and Italian. In previous years the top Maori name for girls was Mia. Remarkably this is the 8th most popular girls name in the USA. Either there are tens of thousands of culturally aware Americans or some particularly ethno-centric bureaucrats in Wellington

So, the first thing we learn is that Wellington bureaucrats are remarkably illiterate in the classics.

The second thing we learn is that statistics in New Zealand are manipulated around pseudo-ethnic (some would say racist) lines. The website says the list of the most popular names but this is not truthful as they eliminated a good portion of names. We won’t find out those names for another six months to be released at Matariki sometime in June.

Meanwhile looking at the sanitised list of names we find the following trends:

Charlotte, Ameilia and Isla have been the top three names since 2019 with Olivia tending to round out the top 4. Children who started school this week there should be at least one of these names in every class.

Gone are the days of Jessica which dominated from 1990 to 2002. Have parents stopped watching Sex in the City and taken notice of the Royal family?

The other noticeable trend is the amount of vegetation in girls names: Olive, Violet, Willow, Hazel, Daisy, Ivy and Lily are all in the top 50. Olive and Violet, of course might be in the colour category along with Ruby and Mauve (although Mauve can come from the Anglo meaning “mallow” or the Gaelic meaning ” mead woman or intoxicating”).

For boys Oliver has been pushed into second by Noah while james drops to 4th pushed out by Luca. If Theo and Theodore are combined it would have been top name in 2023 and second in 2022.

The Royal names of James, George, Henry , Charles, Arthur, and William also feature.