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Most Common Family Names Show Diversity

New Zealand’s diversity is reflected in the family names of babies born in 2020, with the names released today by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Singh, Kaur, Patel, Smith, Williams and Chen all make a strong showing among new-borns, with more than 26,549 individual family names registered for the more than 58,000 babies born last year.

The most common family name registered in New Zealand in 2020 was Singh, followed by Smith, Kaur, Patel and Williams.

“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.”

The most common family names registered in 2019 were Singh, Smith, Kaur, Wilson and Williams. Patel now makes it into the top five instead of Wilson.

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.

Registrar-General 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. Some parents are also getting creative with family names and choosing to hyphenate names or create completely new names.”

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

Below is the list of most common family names. This release follows the release of most popular baby names in January. For the full list of most popular baby names and to find out more about registering your baby, head to www.SmartStart.services.govt.nz

Top surname – All New Zealand
Top surname by region
Bay of PlentySingh
GisborneAllen, Brown, 
Kemp, Williams
Hawke's BaySingh
NelsonMarshall, Taylor, Smith,
Stewart, Thompson
West CoastSmith

*Top 10 lists are available for Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, and North and South Islands.

Note, information can only be provided when at least five children have been given a name. This means we can’t share the top 10 data for places like Nelson, Marlborough, Gisborne, and the West Coast where there are fewer births.

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