Bus Stop, 4Real in name game

By Susan Fagan

Twins called Benson and Hedges and a child called Bus Stop have three of the more unusual names given to Kiwi children.

The decision this month by New Zealand couple Pat and Sheena Wheaton to name their child 4Real has sparked international controversy.

News that the Department of Internal Affairs may refuse to register the name has attracted worldwide media attention, with heated debates for and against the couple's chosen name.

But it's certainly not the first case of parents selecting unusual appellations for their offspring. The Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages has in the past accepted the Benson and Hedges twins and Bus Stop. Satan and Adolf Hitler, however, have been declined.

Registrar-General Brian Clarke said last week that 4Real had not been rejected as a name at this stage, and discussions with the Wheatons were continuing.

Under the law, names that may cause offence to a reasonable person are not allowed, and parents are advised to avoid names that would cause their child to be teased or made fun of.

Auckland parents Kyla and Grant Covic say they chose to call their sons Mekal and Tasman because they didn't want "common" names.

"With Mekal, we liked the meaning of Michael yet wanted a variation," Kyla said.

"With Tasman, we liked it because it's a nice Australasian name. It's all been positive comments and the spelling has never caused any problems," she says.

Kyla Covic feels strongly about a child's right to feel proud of their name throughout their lives. "I do think the meaning is quite important; it always has an impact."

Auckland Midwife Heather Donald says she's come across some bizarre choices of names in her career, but ultimately she believes it is the parents' right to call their baby what they like, as they are the ones who have to live with it.

"They always have to be aware of the impact it will have on the child, particularly when it comes to the pronunciation and spelling of a name," she says.

However, she admits to feeling an inclination towards giving advice, if there is a need.

"If I felt that something was inappropriate, I would feel some responsibility to consult the parents."

The popular parenting website www.treasures.co.nz has this to say on naming children: "The name you choose will say more about you than it does about your baby.

"Some parents believe a recognisable and easily spelled name will make life easier for their offspring, whereas others feel just as fervently that unusual spelling, or even a made-up name, will give their child a point of difference."

Muhammad in second place

Muhammad has become the second most popular name for baby boys in Britain, the Times newspaper reported this month.

The name is now second only to Jack in that country and is likely to rise to number one by next year.

Britain's official register of names puts Mohammed at number 23, but an analysis of the top 3000, taking all 14 different spellings of the name into account, has revealed the status of Muhammad.

The name's increased popularity is thought to be partly because more young Muslims are having families.

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