Smith, was the most popular surname in New Zealand but that has now been eclipsed. Reflecting the immigrational trends of the country Singh is know the most popular surname in New Zealand with Kaur in third place. Smith is now sandwiched in between!
According to the Department of Internal Affairs, the most common surname for babies born in New Zealand last year was Singh. Across the country, the most common Chinese surname for babies born in 2019 was Wang, which is back in ninth place.
Jeff Montgomery (The Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages):
“So people have been here for a number of years and have become a New Zealand citizen and got a New Zealand passport and what we are seeing here I think is the Indian community is the highest for citizenship and now their names are flowing through into the top surnames across the country.”
New Plymouth Sikh society member Sunny Singh Grewal said the rise of the name Singh had taken him by surprise.
“The first time I heard was when my son told me a couple of weeks back. He said the Singhs are the fastest growing name that he found on the internet for New Zealand. I’m actually totally taken by it which I never imagined 20 years ago.”
Grewal said Singh was a common name in the Indian state of Punjab, among Sikhs.
He said it could be traced back to the 10th Sikh spiritual master, Guru Gobind Singh, in the 17th century.
“He basically changed the name. Like all Sikhs must have the name Singh which comes from Sanskrit meaning lion and the Sikh being the warrior. And that’s how the name was given to every Sikh boy gets the name Singh.”
Grewal said the idea was to throw off the yoke of the caste system and the surname Kaur serves a similar purpose for girls.
He said while he chose to reclaim his caste name and use Singh as a middle name, most Sikhs continued to use Singh as their surname.
Massey University professor Paul Spoonley said the DIA figures reflected the dramatic demographic change occurring in New Zealand.
“Between 2013 and 2018 we’ve had the largest net inflow of migrants we’ve ever seen. So 260,000 additional people and what you see in that period is that the largest group in many of the visa categories is Indian and they are coming here under the skilled visa categories and they are coming as families.”
Spoonley said those families were now starting to have their own babies.