Our names stay with us through life. Discussing names and who decides the name is an important part of connecting to pēpi.

People often ask expectant parents ‘What are you going to name your baby?’ Our names are important to us. They help form our identity, and we carry them through life.

How are names chosen?

In the traditional Māori world, the whānau members held the right to name the child.

In some families, there are very strong family names that get repeated through the generations. In others, it’s up to the parents.

However, once the decision is made, there’s usually a story that goes with the name. Talking about names is also a nice way to have a conversation with parents about pēpi and how they’re thinking about it.

A few questions to help start a conversation

Have you thought about what you’re going to name your baby?

If they’ve already chosen a name, you could ask:

  • Do you want to tell me about the name you’ve chosen?
  • How did you come by the name?
  • Who was involved in choosing it?
  • What’s the story behind the name?

If they haven’t yet chosen a name, you could ask:

  • Would you like to talk about it?
  • What are your thoughts about it?
  • What do you want to consider?
  • Who’ll be involved in the decisions?
  • Are there any special things your family does when naming babies?
  • How will you go about it?
  • Do you know where your name comes from?
  • Is there a story behind it?
  • Does your family have any special ceremonies or practices about naming babies?
  • Would you like to have a naming ceremony? What kind?
  • What will you be able to tell your baby about their name later on?

Helpful resources for whānau