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Time for a Zachery comeback

Following my colleague’s analysis of the most popular baby names of 2022, as announced by the Department of Internal Affairs, it’s time to look at those that are falling out of fashion.

The list of unloved names from last year includes some predictable entries like Gladys, Greg, Walt and Neville, but there are a few surprises there as well.

Chandler is on the list. I hadn’t even realised that name had entered society outside of Friends’ Central Perk but whatever the case, it seems it’s now thankfully going the same way as Katniss and Renesmee.

Sadly, both Brent and Brett appear to be heading to extinction. While inevitable confusion in differentiating between the two makes me relieved to see one of them die, it seems a shame both are going down the gurgler.

Zachery is in freefall. How can Hudson and Huntly be more popular than Zachery? When I was young, I thought Zac was a cool, hip name, thanks to Zac Efron and ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’.

It’s hard to believe Zac is now out of favour when names I associate with the silent generation – such as Isla and Ava – are currently on the up. I guess it’s a generational thing – my parents referred to Grace as a quaint name associated with great grandparents, while I had three Graces in my school year.

Meanwhile, I have not met a single person named Margaret, Prudence or Karen who was born in my generation, although those names flourished among the baby boomers.

I got the shock of my life when my friend complained about her six-year-old nephew Grant, a name I thought was the exclusive preserve of middle-aged chartered accountants and brass band musicians.

My name is uncommon for my generation, which makes things very simple – although the downside is that when people picture a person called Helen, they imagine a woman at least 20 years older than I am.

I’m hopeful that some of these names make a comeback, if only for the sake of variety. Honestly, it would be annoying if current favourites Charlotte and Oliver become so common that surnames always have to be used to avoid confusion.

Then again, while the popularity of most baby names ebbs and flows, some aren’t allowed to even get in the running.

Thirteen names for New Zealand babies were rejected last year because they resembled official titles [New Zealand is one the few to ban names for this reason – just in case these children grow up to become high-ranking officers, or enter the royal family, presumably].

Nine parents tried to name their child King, eight picked Saint [perhaps named after the child of Kim and Kanye West], seven went for Royal and six attempted to resurrect Messiah. Others on the rejection pile included the spelling atrocities Majesteigh, Mayjor, Meziah, and Biship.

Considering the rigmarole involved in vetting and rejecting baby names each year, you’d think they would consider relaxing the rules a bit. It’s not as though any of these children are likely to grow up to be a king, saint or messiah, just your standard naughty boys and girls.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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