Kiwi celebrity baby names: Who, what and why

Spy News,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 11 April 2017, 10:58PM
Anika Moa, Israel Dagg and Toni Street. Photos / Instagram
Anika Moa, Israel Dagg and Toni Street. Photos / Instagram

Choosing a name for your baby can be a fraught process.

Finding a moniker that both parents like, that doesn't remind them of ex-lovers, school bullies or jerks from work, and that goes well with the baby’s surname is very tricky indeed.

And if you just so happen to be someone who is a little bit famous, then there’s the added pressure of knowing a bunch of strangers will have an opinion (welcome or not) about the name you’ve chosen for your new bundle of joy.

So with the news that All Black Israel Dagg and wife Daisy welcomed their new son, Arlo Henry, over the weekend, we look at the names our local celebs have chosen for their kids – and why. 



Israel and Daisy Dagg

No doubt we will have to wait for young Arlo Dagg's impending magazine debut to find out why his parents decided to give him the name they did.

However, the name Arlo means ‘fortified hill’, ‘between two highlands’ or ‘strong and manly’, depending on who you’re talking to.

The name has shot back into fashion in recent years, with Arlo being the 23rd most popular boy name in New Zealand last year (with 163 baby Arlos born in 2016).

Toni Street and Matt France

Seven Sharp co-host and The Hits presenter Toni Street is a proud mother of two girls, Juliette and Mackenzie.

Her husband, Matt France, told the Taranaki Daily News at the time of Juliette’s birth in 2012 that they’d had a number of girl names on their shortlist.

"We had a few names floating around, but we didn't know the sex so we had a couple of girl names and a couple of boy names and then when the baby came out [Juliette] just suited her."

Juliette reportedly chose the name Mackenzie when her little sister arrived in 2015.

The name Juliette (a variation of Juliet) is French and apparently means “youthful”. Mackenzie was, of course, originally a Scottish surname and has since become popular as a first name. A total of 91 Mackenzies (of the first name variety) were born in New Zealand last year, making it the 36th most popular name for girls.

Juliette, meanwhile, didn’t feature in the top 100 names for 2016.


If this ends up being my last pic of summer at least it was a goodie #rainispouring

A post shared by Toni Street (@tonimstreet) on Mar 6, 2017 at 11:49pm PST



Jay and Anna Reeve

Jay and Anna Reeves’ three-year-old identical twins are often known collectively as the Reeve Nuggets, but individually, they’re named Oscar and Hunter.

Depending on which origin you look at, the name Oscar is believed to mean ‘deer-loving one’ or ‘spear of god’.

Meanwhile, Hunter is another moniker that used to be a surname, given to hunters and bird catchers in the Middle Ages (obviously).

Both names featured in the top 100 boy names in New Zealand last year, with Oscar sitting in 39th spot and Hunter rocketing into sixth place (with 244 Hunters born in 2016).


A post shared by Anna Reeve (@annareeve_) on Mar 10, 2017 at 12:46pm PST


Victor and Amber Vito

Former All Black Victor Vito and his wife Amber welcomed their second baby, a boy named Cruz, in their new home of La Rochelle last year. He is the very cute little brother of the equally cute Karlos.

The Vitos told Woman's Day they called their first son ‘Baby’ for the first few days of his life, while they agreed on a more permanent name. The couple eventually settled on Karlos Mateo Leaupepetele, which they said was “perfect” for their "beautiful, exotic little Maltese Samoan baby".

Karlos means ‘manly’, while Cruz means ‘Cross’ (or more specifically, ‘The Cross of the Christ’).

Neither of the Vito baby names featured in the top 100 of 2016. (‘Cruz’ was last seen in that list back in 2011.)



Anika Moa and Natasha Utting

Newlyweds Anika Moa and Natasha Utting have three sons between them – twins Taane and Barry, from Moa’s previous relationship, and Soren. Moa told the Herald that even though Barry was her former partner’s grandfather’s name, she had actually chosen it for her son.

"It's just such a quirky name, you know? Bazza. I was telling my mum on the phone, there's Taane Diamond and she was like ‘Ohh, kia ora’ and Barry Kowhai and she was like ‘Sooo, what was the name?'"

Soren, meanwhile, is named after Utting’s Danish great-great-great-grandfather. The name means ‘strict’ or ‘stern’, two things which by all accounts this young boy is not.

Soren’s middle name is Huia, after the now-extinct sacred bird. His parents told Woman's Day: "It means ‘treasure’ and he is very treasured."

The names Soren, Taane and Barry didn’t feature in the top 100 boy names of 2016.


A post shared by Anika Moa (@anikamoa) on Dec 25, 2016 at 12:22pm PST


Block NZ babies

A handful of future DIY stars have been born to former Block NZ contestants in the last few years.

Alex and Corban Walls welcomed a son named Austen last year.

Another name that is more common as a surname, it didn’t feature in the country’s top 100 boy names for 2016. A google search reveals ‘Austen’ comes from the Latin Augustine, meaning ‘magic dignity’ or ‘venerable’.



Caleb and Alice Pearson have had a son, Alek, and daughter, Mika, since winning their season of The Block NZ.

The couple told Woman's Day they chose the name Mika to honour Caleb's Japanese heritage. (Mika means “beautiful fragrance” in Japanese and “gift from God” in Hebrew.)



Meanwhile, Ben and Quinn Alexandre, who famously found out they were having a baby while competing on The Block, have also had a son and daughter (Cooper and Daisy) since appearing on the show.

While Daisy didn’t feature in the top 100 girl names last year, Cooper was New Zealand’s 15th most popular boy name for 2016.

So how do these Kiwi celebrity baby names compare with those given to Hollywood bubs?

They’re certainly more conservative, to say the least. There isn’t enough room in the entire internet to list every "unique" baby name a Hollywood star has doled out over the years, so here are just a few more recent examples:

Lara Bingle and Sam Worthington have just given their first son, Rocket Zot, a little brother named Racer.

Geri Halliwell of Spice Girls fame has two children, a daughter named Bluebell and a son named Montague (or Monty for short).

Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna decided to name their baby daughter Dream, while Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green named their third son Journey.

Alanis Morrissette recently had baby Onyx (a girl), while former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson named her second child Remington (apparently not in tribute to the '80s TV detective Remington Steele).

Actor Edward Norton has a son named Atlas, while actress Busy Philipps has daughters named Birdie and Cricket.

Lil' Kim went full rap star in naming her daughter Royal Reign (however the name Royal is banned in New Zealand, so don't get any ideas about copying that one).

Also banned as a name in New Zealand is Saint, the moniker bestowed on Kim Kardashian's son with Kanye West. It’s still slightly less unusual than his sister’s name, North West. (It’s certainly character-building being named after a compass direction.)

So it’s safe to say famous New Zealanders have some way to go before they can compete in the unusual baby name stakes. But maybe 2017 might be the year we get our own Pilot Inspektor, Apple, Audio Science, Jermajesty or Moxie Crimefighter. (Yes, really.)