Top Maori baby names list a first

By Yvonne Tahana

The more popular names show that a new generation of mokopuna continue to be given names that are often unique to their own whanau. Photo / Getty Images
The more popular names show that a new generation of mokopuna continue to be given names that are often unique to their own whanau. Photo / Getty Images

Maia and Nikau emerged as the top two Maori names for babies born last year in data put together for the first time by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Registrar-General of Births Deaths and Marriages, Jeff Montgomery, put the list together for Maori Language Week.

The chief executive of Maori language commission Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori, Glenis Philip-Barbara, said the more popular names show that a new generation of mokopuna continue to be given names that are often unique to their own whanau, hapu and iwi. She hoped that the list would be published annually.

"It's great that Maori names were given to so many babies last year."

"Names connect people to place, and we'd like all New Zealanders to consider the wealth of connection that Maori names offer."

A smaller number of iwi-specific names such as Mahinarangi, a famous East Coast and Waikato name, and Waimirirangi, from the Far North, were also identified by the department.

Waikato University senior lecturer in Maori and Pacific Development, Tom Roa, has been researching Maori naming practices - an interest kicked off after he received a call in 2006 from an institution that had discovered a new type of insect and wanted to name it after the monarch Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, who had just died.

His research draws on Maori naming traditions such as certain names being given before conception, or to commemorate a tragedy. Some babies might not be named for a number of years; others might receive new names in adulthood for an event.

Mr Roa said he wasn't surprised Manaia was a favourite for both sexes, as its root word is mana. "The key finding was that the person being named has a mana of his or her own. So Manaia is reflective of that mana."


Top Maori names

Girls

Maia
Aria
Manaia
Anahera
Ataahua
Aroha
Tia
Ariana
Kaia
Kahurangi

Boys

Nikau
Wiremu
Kahurangi
Kauri
Nikora
Tane
Tamati
Rawiri
Anaru
Tai

- NZ Herald

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