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1,500 names for Kiwi kids in 2021: Trending baby names, Te Reo, gender-neutral + unique names

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

Are you hunting for the perfect baby name? I’ve been investigating name trends for New Zealand babies in 2021 and have compiled the definitive list of Kiwi baby names in the last decade.

What was the first thing you did when you found out you were pregnant? If you are like me, you started a baby name list.

There is a lot of emotion wrapped up in a name and everyone has an opinion. Do you share your short list? Tell anyone the final choice before the announcement? Traditional vs unique? Do you celebrate if a celebrity chooses your planned name, or sigh and start hunting for a new one?

Name trends have tended to remain quite stable over the years. For example, Charlotte has held either the top or second position in New Zealand for the last eight years and four of the top five NZ baby girl names in 2020 were also in the top five the year before. Boys’ names have even more staying power. Oliver has held pole position for the last eight years with the second place going to Jack in all but one of those years. The others in the top five have also been dominant for quite some time, appearing again and again in the most popular lists.

We chose traditional names and both of our boys have names that link strongly to our family history. One appears quite regularly in name lists but the other hasn't featured much in recent years. Despite this, we hope their names will stand the test of time.

I like names that are easy to pronounce and spell, as well as being simple for kids to learn and communicate, harking back to often cited research that this leads to better social outcomes. However, many people like to choose names that are unique and there is now research suggesting that this will positively impact the child’s personality. The research notes that parents who select a unique name will also often prize difference and uniqueness and will raise their children with this in mind. "When you think of yourself as different, you might in turn think and behave differently" says Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at New York University. "It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that begins with an unusual name and ultimately leads to unconventional or creative thinking".

Gender neutral names are also gaining popularity; with parents embracing the idea of gender fluidity and wanting to give their children more room to define themselves as they get older. Last names as first names, such as Blake and Bailey are also trending and tend to be quite gender neutral.

Whatever your school of thought, choosing a name is usually a very enjoyable part of pregnancy and many hours can be pleasantly lost to scrolling through name lists and hunting for agreement on your favourites.

I've compiled a list of 1,500+ names that have appeared ten or more times in the New Zealand birth registers over the last 10 years. If you are looking for lots of baby name inspiration check this out. Alternatively, for the shorter version, check out my list of 100 names for New Zealand babies below.

Happy name hunting - I can't wait to hear what you choose!


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