There are a lot of wonderful things that have come out of New Zealand. From the Lord of the Rings movies to the popular singer Lorde, New Zealand has a lot of great exports that America has benefited from. But it doesn’t stop there.
New Zealand is the perfect place to turn to for baby name inspiration. With the influence of Maori culture and Australian trends, the Kiwis have a ton of names that North America has yet to explore.
If a unique name that won’t be heard around the block sounds great, this list of boys and girls names is a must read. Using information from Nameberry.com and The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand, I put together a list of names that haven't made their way over to North America but deserve a second look.
Take a look at these Maori and Kiwi inspired names and see if any are a good fit. It's best to grab names before all the other moms have already claimed them for their own bundles of joy.
Congratulations and happy name hunting!
The diminutive of Mildred or Millicent, Millie is a powerful girls name that stands on its own. The name re-entered the charts in 2009 in the United States and now sits at #435. It seems that the US is a bit behind on the times when it comes to this old-fashioned classic name. It has always been a favorite in New Zealand and currently sits at #39.
A perfect name for a girl with a great work ethic, the German origin of the name means “strong in work”.
Those named Millie are globetrotters at heart. They have a deep passion and desire for travel and they tend to seek out adventure. They move to the beat of their own drum and choose to set the pace that they live by. Millies aren’t big on tradition and they prefer to make their own way through the world without the tethers of institutions and customs holding them back.
A popular name in New Zealand, Micah is a unisex name that those down under prefer for boys rather than girls. The name is Hebrew in origin and has biblical links as well. The name means “who is like the Lord” in Hebrew. An unusual and unique alternative to the more common Michael, Micah is a reoccurring favourite in New Zealand year after year.
Leaders by nature, people with the name Micah tend to be great at analyzing, comprehension and learning. While their introverted nature sometimes makes those named Micah seem sad or even distant, turning to them during your time of need may be the solution. If you’re looking for someone to help you through a difficult problem the introspection and ability to see the bigger picture, turn to a Micah.
Usually seen as a “tomboyish” nickname for a young girl, Billie sits comfortably in the top 100 names for girls in New Zealand. While in the US, the name hasn’t been seen on the top 100 list in almost a hundred year back in 1928.
The name is a diminutive of Wilhelmina and Wilma but is strong and sassy enough to stand on its own. Meaning "resolute protection", Billie is now seen as a predominately female name.
With a strong desire for adventure and travel, Billie’s tend to follow the beat of their own drum. They are not governed by tradition but still place a high value on truth and justice. And for those who do not, watch out. Billie’s tend to be quick-tempered with people who don’t abide by truth and justice.
An English occupational name, Fletcher means “arrow-maker”. A quirky name full of character, Fletcher is more often seen as a surname. But Kiwis don’t see it that way. The popularity of Fletcher has been on a steady rise in the US for years now. It now sits at #652 for a boy name. Maybe the states are starting to catch on to the spirited name. In New Zealand, the name sits at a respectable #70.
Dynamic individuals, those named Fletcher tend to be optimistic and energetic. Having a not-so-great day? Call up a Fletcher and let their positive outlook and boundless energy bring a little sunshine to your day. But be sure they clean up after themselves, as Fletchers can be a bit untidy.
Thanks to celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon and Amanda Peet, who named their daughters Frankie, the name has been steadily climbing the US charts. After a 41-year leave of absence, Frankie has finally cracked the top 1000 list in the states.
New Zealand, on the other hand, has never turned its back on Frankie. It currently sits at #71 and has always been a popular choice for Kiwi girls.
The diminutive of Frances, in Latin the name means “free one”, and gives off a glamorous and spunky vibe, no doubt in thanks to the celebrity cred. A haven for creativity, Frankies tend to want to work with other people to feel fulfilled in their lives. They are courageous proud but also tend to be slightly stubborn and proud.
The most popular name for Maori boys in New Zealand, Nikau is also the name of a palm tree native to the islands. While it has yet to become popular in America, it has a very similar sound to the popular Nicholas, making it a perfect alternative for kids in the States. Nikau has been in the top 5 names for Maori boys in New Zealand for the last 8 years.
A wonderful name for anyone looking for a name close to nature, Nikau is an original alternative to many tree names currently popular in America. Those with the name Nikau tend to be at their best when they are able to spend time in nature. They love the outdoors but their outgoing nature makes them at home in the country or the city.
Popular in the Maori community, Maia is the #1 choice for Kōtiro or girls. The name didn’t appear on the US charts until the early 1980s but has been making a steady climb in recent years.
Maia is Greek in origin. The name was given to the oldest daughter of Atlas, the most beautiful of all the Pleiades. She was also the mother of Hermes and the name now means “mother”. Bonus if your daughter will be born in May, as the month was named for Maia.
Because the name is rooted so deeply in Greek and Roman mythology, Maia is seen as an ethereal, mystical name with spiritual undertones. They tend to love the beautiful things in life and spend their lives trying to inspire others to greatness.
The namesake of a specific Polynesian tree that is found in New Zealand, Kauri is an extremely popular name in New Zealand. And yet the #3 most popular name for Maori boys in New Zealand, Kauri, doesn’t grace any of the US top name lists. But it should!
The name is imbued with health, fortune and spirituality. Those named Kauri are versatile learners, extremely idealistic and have an intuition to be envied. They tend to be the happiest when they are providing for their loved ones and helping to build a strong community around them.
If you’re looking for a friend who will truly understand and appreciate you, turn to a Kauri. They are excellent at comforting others, very appreciative of those around them and are open with their affection.
Pronounced Ki-ya, Kaea is another popular girl's Maori name that doesn’t make a blip on the US baby name radar. Meaning to wander or roam in Maori, the name is perfect for an adventurous child.
Excellent communicators, those named Kaea have a knack for leading. They tend to be popular with friends, family and the community at large and they are great at getting others to work together for the greater good. Kaea’s also go out of their way to help those in need no matter the cost to themselves. Altruistic, kind and generous, girls named Kaea are an extremely kind, good-spirited and, of course, adventurous.
If you’re looking for someone to travel the world with, Kaea is the perfect companion for an intercontinental voyage.
A powerful name that may be more associated with trucks than babies in North America, Hemi is a top pick for Maori boys in New Zealand. The name currently sits at #9. Hemi means “god is gracious” and it is the Maori version of James.
Those named Hemi value their freedom above all else. They are independent in everything they do but also tend to be sociable. Extremely curious about the world around them, Hemis love to travel, enjoy taking risks every now and then and can often be found questioning everything around them.
Funnily enough, they can be very impatient and like everything in their world to go fast. They channel their excessive energy into their many hobbies and their active lifestyle. Their strong will and lively attitude carry them through life with a constant smile on their faces.
A variation on the Latin name Tiara, Tiare is a top 20 girl name in the Maori community. Meaning “flower” in Polynesian, Tiare is a beautiful name. It is also fit for a princess or a queen and means “headdress” in Latin. Currently, Tiare doesn’t rank on any North American name lists but has been slowly climbing towards a top 1000. It’s just peaking its way onto the top 10,000, sitting at 9,699.
Those named Tiare are affectionate and also imaginative. They are interested in the arts, drama and other creative endeavors. While they may sometimes find themselves preoccupied with their social status, they are sensitive and extremely cooperative with those around them. Most importantly, Tiare’s are able to choose their own destiny and set the course for their lives. They have the drive and creativity to achieve anything they set their minds to.
Nixon has fallen from popularity in the United States, in part thanks to the president of the same name. And while most North Americans would avoid giving their child a name so rift with negative history, the almost 8,000 miles of separation has helped the Kiwis embrace it.
Nixon is a popular choice for boys in New Zealand and sits at #99 on their top 100 list.
People named Nixon are driven by their desire for a stable, loving family. They tend to build their lives around stable communities. They are very ideological and believe that everyone should live their lives on the values of truth and justice. Sometimes overly cautious, Nixons tend to be conservative in their beliefs and can run a short fuse with those who don’t.
Probably the most lovely girls name on the list, Aroha, pronounced ah-ROW-ha, is the Maori word for love. It is also one of the most popular names for young girls in New Zealand. Aroha doesn’t make it onto any of the United States popularity lists, it’s the perfect mix of beautiful and meaningful that makes it a perfect fit for American girls. It’s more accessible than other names that mean love like Aphrodite or Venus.
Mystics through and through, those named Aroha are deeply in touch with their own feelings and the feelings of others. They have the tendency to be introspective and quiet. Aroha is the perfect name for a girl with big dreams and a big heart. If you need a friend who can listen to your problems and help you strategize a solution, turn to an Aroha.
The name Tai has many different means across the world. In Vietnam, Tai means “talent”, in Chinese it means “great extreme” and in Romanian, it means “yours”. But in Maori Tai is a nautical name that means “tide”. The name is a top 20 choice for Maori boys in New Zealand but doesn’t even make a dent in the US top name lists.
Those named Tai tend to have one major concern in life, creating a beautiful home life for their families. They are born caregivers who are known for their giving nature and warmth. Because of this Tai’s tend to be extremely selfless and willing to put the needs of others in front of their own needs. Because of this, they are often drawn towards those who are in need.
If you haven’t heard the name Moana in the last few years, you might have been living under a rock. Made popular they the recent Disney film of the same name, Moana means “the sea or ocean” in Maori. It has been an extremely popular girls name in New Zealand for years and it now sits at #19. While the popularity of the Disney film has set Moana up to be a big hit in the US, it currently doesn’t rank in the US most popular name rankings.
If the Disney character is anything to go by, Moana is a strong, powerful girls name. Moana’s tend to be strong-willed, independent and fierce. They are incredibly creative and is more than capable of achieving all of their dreams.
Keep an eye on Moana, the name is destined to make it onto the US charts soon.
A name with many meanings, Kai is a unisex name that is slowly growing in popularity in the United States. While a unisex name, it is predominantly seen in New Zealand as a boys name. It currently sits at #12.
The meaning of the name varies through cultures. Kai means“sea” in Hawaiian, “willow tree” in Navajo, “forgiveness” in Japanese and “food” in Maori.
Kai’s tend to enjoy life to the fullest when they are in the spotlight. They are social creatures who love to be involved in as many different activities and hobbies as possible. They often turn to creative endeavors in the arts such as painting and acting. Extroverts in the truest sense, people named Kai are excellent at expressing themselves and tend to be great leaders.
In the United States, Koa is predominantly seen as a boys name if it is seen at all. But down under in New Zealand, Koa is the #12 most popular name for girls. Pronounced like Noah, the name’s strong meaning makes it a great choice for future world leaders and feminists. Meaning “warrior”, Koa is also a tree native to the Hawaiian islands that are used for building surfboards and canoes.
The name is a perfect blend of nature and the outdoors with the love of adventure. Those named Koa have a deep passion to learn the secrets of the world around them. They are extremely passionate, intuitive and have a tendency to be romantics. They are open-minded and generous. If you ever need someone to just listen, turn to a Koa.
The #72 most popular name for boys in New Zealand, Angus isn’t currently on the American radar or charts. The name has Scottish origins and means “one strength”. While it's not seen as the most cutting-edge name in American, New Zealand makes a case for Angus as an up and coming choice for parents looking for a unique name.
People named Angus tend to play it safe. They prefer to be involved in more run of the mill activities and are quite risk-averse. They tend to have great strength in conventional careers in business and banking. Those named Angus have the focus to move through the world while achieving their material dreams. But they will need help developing their focus in their private lives and relationships.
A unisex name that is a spelling variation of the more common Riley, Rylie is, in fact, the more popular choice in New Zealand. The same can’t be said for the United States where Riley sits at #22 and Rylie doesn’t rank at all. The different spelling makes for a unique spin on an otherwise popular name.
Rylie is an Irish name meaning “courageous” and those with this name tend to live up to it. People named Rylie seek out adventure everywhere they go, and they are often on the move. They have a passion for travel and exploring the world. Those named Rylie look for harmony in the world and are drawn to the beauty they see in their everyday lives.
A unique name that is set to make waves in New Zealand this year, Corin has yet to gain mainstream popularity in North America. Corin is a unisex name that means “spear” in Latin. The name is seen as a classic and is ready for a resurgence.
Rebellious and dynamic, those named Corin desire a life filled with adventure and excitement. They thrive on change and are very adaptive in their professional and personal lives. Some may even call them visionaries. They dislike being constrained by rules and will actively seek out ways to push through conventional thinking and standards. Corins tend to have an extremely positive outlook on the world and this helps them to make friends very easily.
A Spanish name that has become extremely popular in New Zealand, Ria is the tenth most popular name for girls in New Zealand. The name has yet to make a splash in North America, but the short name is a perfect alternative to other more popular names likes Mia.
Ria means “small river” or “from the river’s mouth”.
Those named Ria tend to have an independent streak in them and they have a deep value for their freedom. Natural-born leaders, Rias have powerful personalities that lend themselves to tackling large issues rather than focus on the smaller details. And while they can be seen as authority figures themselves, when faced with authority they feel resentment. This is because people named Ria can be both stubborn and proud.
The popularity of the name Beauden in New Zealand can be directly linked back to one man, Beauden Barrett: a player on the world-famous All Blacks rugby team. Derived from the name Beau, it means “handsome” in French. The name is not widely used in America but is a top choice in New Zealand.
People named Beauden tend to be extremely artistic and have a deep love for literature and music. While they may be short when it comes to sharing their feelings out loud, with a pen and paper in hand they will have no trouble expressing themselves. Quiet in nature, Beaudens make like-minded friends with whom they share similar interests. And they will usually have a small, but very tight-knit, group of friends.
A name with Scottish origins, Lachlan means “from the fjord-land". In New Zealand, Lachlan is the #21 most popular name for boys. The name is slowly gaining steam in America and it currently sits at #700. An extremely Scottish name, Lachlan could become extremely popular in the US along with other Scottish favorites like Andrew, Fin and Gavin.
People named Lachlan are driven by their desire to find love and companionship in their lives. They tend to find fulfillment in careers that help them work to bring peace to others. Their positive attitudes and passion to work with others make them great teachers, social workers and therapists. Those named Lachlan are happiest when surrounded by beauty. Because of this, they love nature and art.
The #4 most popular name for Maori girls in New Zealand, Anahera is a beautiful name with a divine meaning. While an extremely popular choice in New Zealand, the name is ranked at #18,482 in America. The name means “angel” and is a great alternative to other angelic names such as Angelina, Seraphine and Ariel.
Those named Anahera tend to be especially feminine and emotional. They tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves and have their heads in the clouds. People with the name Anahera are daydreamers and fit well in environments that are constantly changing and evolving. Social butterflies by nature, they thrive on interactions with others and are great at making and keeping friends.
The #14 most popular name for Maori boys in New Zealand, Tangaroa has a rich history that has yet to makes its way over to the United States. Pronounced TA-nga-roh-ah, the name sits at #7,770 on the US most popular name list.
The meaning of the name comes from Maori mythology. Tangaroa is the god of the sea. The son of Ranginui and Papatūānuku, Tangaroa is said to have separated his parents’ embrace, creating the earth and the sky.
Those with the name Tangaroa are very charming and possess a magnetism that helps them throughout their lives. They tend to be friendly, extroverted and excellent communicators. If you are looking for a friend to help you smile and broaden your social circle, turn to a Tangaroa.
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