Singh has topped the list of the most common family names for Kiwi children born in 2021.
Smith is in second place while Kaur – historically the feminine counterpart to Singh in Sikh communities – was the third most common family name, the Department of Internal Affairs says.
The family name rankings vary by region, with common surnames Wang and Li not appearing in the nationwide top 10, while coming in fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Auckland list.
Similarly, Anderson and Thomas are sixth and eighth in the list of family names for babies born in the South Island, but did not reach the overall top 10.
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“Unlike the most popular first names for babies, which tend to retain popularity across the country, data for family names differs, painting a beautiful picture of the cultural history of each region of Aotearoa,” Registrar-General Jeff Montgomery said.
“It’s a joy each year to get a feel for how the communities in each region are growing and thriving through looking at something as simple as the most common baby family names.”
Sociologist Distinguished Emeritus Professor Paul Spoonley, of Massey University, said the surnames of New Zealand children would increasingly reflect the country’s recent immigration history.
The mix of surnames had been changing for the past two decades.
“You are beginning to see those Asian surnames becoming much more prominent in New Zealand,” Spoonley said.
Auckland, as New Zealand’s super-diverse city, tended to reflect the influence of both Indians and Chinese who had dominated the skilled migrant visa categories, he said.
“The contrast is with the South Island, which has been less influenced by migration,” Spoonley said.
“What will happen is that increasingly the surnames will be dominated by migrants.
“That’s because fertility for Pākehā is tending to fall away, so there are going to be fewer children born to Pākehā,” Spoonley said.
“What you’re seeing is an indicator of New Zealand’s future.”
The Registrar-General gathers information about family names from the Government’s SmartStart website.