A recent report on 100 years of babies’ names in New Zealand gets NZ On Screen Content Director Irene Gardiner thinking about the names immortalised in classic Kiwi songs.

Figures released last week by the Department of Internal Affairs show that some names are timeless, but there are only a few of the old vintage left.

The report from the registrar-general of Births, Deaths and Marriages shows that just two names, James and William, feature in New Zealand's top 10 in both 1915 and 2015. Mary and John were the two most popular a century ago, while Charlotte and Oliver are the names of choice for babies born this year.

But - seeing as how it's NZ Music Month - let's move to the world of New Zealand music, and then we've got a whole different set of favourite names to write about.

One of our most enduringly loved "name" songs is Victoria, by the Exponents (or the Dance Exponents as they were known back in 1982 when the song came out).


It was the song that first put the band on the map, and it continues to be a favourite sing-a-long moment in their live set. "Vic-tor-i-a - what do you see in him, se-ee in him..."

Sharon O'Neill's Maxine, from 1983, is another name song that has become a Kiwi classic. O'Neill wrote the song about a King's Cross prostitute - "case 1352, a red and green tattoo" - when she was living in Sydney. It was a hit on both sides of the Tasman.

You can see the Maxine music video here:

Moving into the 1990s now, and Fur Patrol's hit single Lydia - the ultimate anthem for the jilted. Directed by prolific music video-maker Jonathan King, the clip at first appears to be a straightforward performance piece, but then it becomes apparent that the band in fact have no instruments or microphones. It's a simple but stylish video that perfectly suits this haunting song that got the name Lydia on all of our lips.

View Lydia here:

And Fur Patrol weren't done with the "first name as song title" concept with the success of Lydia. The follow-up single from the Pet album was Andrew - a song which sees singer Julia Deans emphatically despatching someone who has wronged her for the last time. The video was shot in a club on Auckland's Karangahape Rd, and features some impressive boy band style dancing.

You can watch it here:

Name songs aren't just the domain of our rock acts, country crossover kings The Warratahs name-checked Maureen in their second single - a classic tale of lost love. Director Waka Attewell's music video intersperses the band's performance with shots of their hometown Wellington.

You can see the Maureen video here:

Perhaps our most famous name songs of all both come from the same artist - the legendary John Rowles. Cheryl Moana Marie and Tania (named for Rowles' sisters) are from the days before music videos, but they are both referenced in this biographical documentary The Secret Life of John Rowles.

Watch The Secret Life of John Rowles here:

You can see a more comprehensive selection of New Zealand "name songs" here.