January 26, 2022

‘Singh’ overtakes ‘Smith’, ‘Williams’ again as top surname in 2020

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The most common family name of babies born in New Zealand in 2020 was Singh, followed by Smith, Kaur, Patel and Williams, reflecting the country’s diversity.

The pattern in 2019 was also similar with Singh on top followed by Wilson and Williams. This year, however, Patel replaced Wilson in the top five list of the family names registered.

There was some regional variation with Patel being the most common family name in Wellington, and Singh in Auckland and Bay of Plenty, while Smith took out top spot in Canterbury, Otago, West Coast and Southland.

Singh, Kaur, and Patel are common Indian family names.

“I’m not surprised at this emerging trend as migrants from India are on the rise. Singh is a common name predominant in the Indian state of Punjab. All those who follow Sikhism must have the name Singh for males, and Kaur for females,” says Manjit Kaur who moved to New Zealand nearly 20 years back.

Manjit Kaur (L) & G. Singh who moved to NZ nearly 20 years back (NewsViews)

“Names Singh & Kaur are symbolic of the equality of men and women in the Sikh faith and to put an end to the caste system that was (and still is) deep-rooted in the Indian culture. These family names were bestowed to them by Guru Gobind Singh who formed the Sikh religion. Basically, Singh means lion reflecting the warrior he was during 17th Century, and Kaur reflects a similar meaning-lioness,” she says.

More than 26,549 individual family names were registered for the more than 58,000 babies born last year, according to the information released yesterday by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Jeff Montgomery said the emergence of names such as Singh, Kaur, and Patel reflected both immigration and religious affiliation trends.

“Most new citizens come from the United Kingdom and India, with a significant number from Sikh backgrounds where Singh is the chosen family name for boys and Kaur for girls.

”Parents are also being more creative with first names. There were more than 18,000 different first names for the 58,000 babies registered last year through SmartStart.”

This is the second year the Registrar-General has produced the list of family names.

“The list of the most common surnames for 2020 is yet another indication of Aotearoa New Zealand’s thriving diversity,” said the Executive Director of the Office of Ethnic Communities, Anusha Guler. “This is good news, as diversity in our communities helps make New Zealand a more culturally rich, innovative and connected place.”

Below is the list of the 10 most common family names registered in 2020:

  • Singh – 398
  • Smith – 319
  • Kaur – 274
  • Patel – 204
  • Williams – 198
  • Brown – 194
  • Wilson – 179
  • Taylor – 152
  • Thompson – 148
  • Anderson – 143

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