According to the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs and the Maori Language Commission (Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori), the country’s most popular Maori names during the second half of 2014 and the first half of 2015 were Maia and Nikau.
Here are the top 10 Maori girl names and boy names of 2014/2015:
1. Maia 2. Manaia 3. Anahera 4. Ana 5. Aroha 6. Kaia 7. Hana 8. Ataahua 9. Tia 10. Kora
1. Nikau 2. Ari 3. Manaia 4. Wiremu 5. Kauri 6. Mikaere 7. Rawiri 8. Ihaia 9. Kai 10. Manaaki
One confusing difference is the absence of Aria and Ariana. Were they reclassified as non-Maori? Otherwise, Aria and Ariana should have come in first and third on this list, given how popular they’ve been in New Zealand overall lately.
Also confusing is the fact that the rankings don’t refer to corresponding periods of time. The 2013 list covers April 2012 to March 2013, whereas the 2015 list covers July 2014 to June 2015.
Harper and Sophia replace Ava and Isabella in the girls’ top 10, and Benjamin and Jacob replace Samuel and Thomas in the boys’ top 10.
The biggest movement within the top 10 is Ruby, which dropped from 3rd place all the way to 10th.
Several articles made note of the absence of Maori names on both top 100 lists:
About 20 percent of Maori women aged 15 and over had given birth to four or more children compared to only 12.2 percent of the European women, meaning there was even more reason for Maori names to be chosen.
But this was not the case.
Fifteen percent of the population (598,602) identified as Maori in the 2013 Census.
Maori names like Manaia and Anahera have appeared on the New Zealand girls’ top 100 in recent years, but neither made the list in 2014.
This is the second-ever official list of popular Maori names, and it’s very different from the first list (2012). Notably, half of the girl names and nearly half of the boy names above are brand new. Two of the newbie boy names, Ari and Niko, now rank 2nd and 4th respectively.
A conversation with commenter elbowin a couple of weeks ago prompted me to do a bit of research on Maori names. And what did I stumble upon while doing that research? An official list of the top Maori baby names of 2012:
1. Nikau 2. Wiremu 3. Kahurangi 4. Kauri 5. Nikora 6. Tane 7. Tamati 8. Rawiri 9. Anaru 10. Tai 11. Manaia 12. Tama 13. Mikaere 14. Te Ariki 15. Ariki 16. Te Koha 17. Hoani 18. Manawa 19. Tiare 20. Hemi
The list was created using data from the Births, Deaths and Marriages registry of NZ’s Department of Internal Affairs. How?
The results are for the first name given to nineteen thousand Maori babies (by descent) registered in 2012. The analysis found that Maori girls are more likely to be given Maori names.
So, they tallied up and ranked all the Maori names given to babies of Maori descent. (In case you’re wondering, 61,178 babies were born in New Zealand in 2012 and 33% of these babies were of Maori descent.)
I do wish the press release had included some raw numbers, or at least mentioned what percentage of Maori babies got Maori names in 2012. Because, without this information, there’s no way to know what sort of influence (if any) Maori babies getting Maori names had on the overall 2012 list.
For instance, the top two Maori girl names, Maia and Aria — which aren’t exclusively Maori in origin — ranked 30th and 38th nation-wide. Would they have ranked as well if they hadn’t been so popular among the Maori specifically?
Anyway…it’s a cool list, regardless. Thanks, elbowin, for all the thoughtful comments. :)