Maori Names Take the Stage
Māori names have it all: mythology, nature, word names, and so much more. Whether you’re seeking fashionable and familiar, such as Ari or Maia, or you want something a little more unexpected, like Atawhai or Kahukura, you may just discover your next big name crush in a Māori baby name.
Top Māori Names
Each year, Aotearoa’s government publishes the Top 10 Māori names given to baby boys and girls over the past twelve months. Aotearoa is a small nation of just five million inhabitants, so the number of babies given each name may seem small to people from larger countries.
The names in the list below are all of Māori origin, as determined by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission of Aotearoa. Some Māori names, like Mia and Aria, may also be widely popular in other languages with alternative history.
Here are the Top 10 Māori baby names given to boys (tama) and girls (kōtiro) in 2020, together with the number of births registered.
Māori Names With Positive Meanings
Māori doesn’t just have beautiful nature names. Names with bright, optimistic meanings also present great options for expectant parents. Here are some of our personal favorites.
Respecting Māori Culture
Before naming your child something on this list, it is crucial to consider the significance these names hold to those of Māori heritage. Although it is acceptable to use a Māori name if you are Pākehā (European), proceed with care and respect.
A Māori language expert, Tāwhirimātea Williams, says that the usage of Māori names can be a show of affection and respect to the Māori people. However, if a Pākehā wishes to use a Māori name, they must have a deep understanding of the history and the meaning behind those names.
A brilliant example of this is New Zealand’s very own prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, who in 2018 gave birth to a baby girl and named her Neve Te Aroha. She chose the name Te Aroha knowing the importance of the name in Māori culture, despite being Pākehā herself. As Māori language expert Williams explained: “She has shown us that she not only has affection for the Pākehā world but ours as well, hence her giving her baby that name.”