No Justice for Baby Names in New Zealand
Kiwi parents have tried—and failed—to name their children 4Real, V8, and Mafia No Fear. Get the scoop on New Zealand's latest baby name outlaws
Looking to push the envelope when you choose a baby name? Here’s a bit of advice: Don’t move to New Zealand.
The country’s government has released its updated list of banned baby names and the 77-name list is a doozie: It includes everything from royalty-inspired monikers (Majesty, Princess, Royal) to religious names (Christ, Saint) to number letter combinations, like 4Real and V8. A punctuation mark—a period—made the list, as did the phrase “Mafia No Fear.”
A representative for New Zealand’s department of internal affairs told Sky News that the country has been holding its newborn citizens’ names to a certain standard since 1995. “A name, or combination of names, should not cause offence, be unreasonably long or resemble an official title or rank,” the official said.
A number of other countries, including Iceland, Denmark and Germany, also have rules limiting what names parents can use.
The information released by the New Zealand government includes the number of times Kiwi parents sought to use the banned names since 2001. “Justice” was the most popular rejected name, with 62 attempts.
The US has no similar list, though a New Jersey couple made headlines in 2009 when the state took their children—including a son named Adolf and a daughter whose name included “Aryan Nation”—into protective custody amid allegations of child abuse. American parents who spoke to BabyZone.com had mixed feelings about New Zealand’s name bans.
Karen Liot Hill, a mother of two from Lebanon, New Hampshire, said she initially found the idea of New Zealand’s list “shocking.” But Liot Hill—who named her daughters Marina and Zoe—said she also saw the merits banning names. She noted that it’s widely accepted for the government to regulate other issues related to parenting, such as limiting certain kinds of corporal punishment.
“A government has a legitimate interest in protecting the welfare of children, and perhaps there’s a legitimate interest in putting certain words for names off limits,” she said. “They could very well be doing a whole lot of future leaders a big favor by making sure they don’t get saddled with names that are really trendy or very specific to a certain time or place.”
Adam Silverstein, a father of a toddler named Benjamin in River Vale, New Jersey, said he supports banning certain names.
“On the surface, I have a problem with government infringing on parents’ civil liberties. That being said, I think names that are discriminatory and vulgar should be banned,” he said. “These names have long-lasting impacts on children and reckless parents trying to make a statement or looking shock value are doing a disservice to their children…Bluntly, put it’s selfish and stupid.”
Still others feel that parents should have absolute freedom to choose the name they like best, including the names on the New Zealand list.
“I don’t believe banning baby names is the right thing to do,” said Amy Kopteros, who is pregnant with her first child in Dunedin, Florida. “Although I don’t agree with most of the names and think it’s cruel to name a child ridiculous names, they should have the right to do so as a parent.”
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