Parents not naming babies after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, data shows

Earlier this month, the United States' Social Security Administration admitted more parents are bestowing Game of Thrones character names on their children than ever before.

Among them, 'Daenerys' was given to 163 American babies in 2018, 'Khaleesi' to 560, 'Tyrion' to 58, and 14 were named after the Mad King 'Aerys'.

In New Zealand, 67 babies have received first or middle names of either 'Daenerys' or 'Khaleesi' since 2011, Newshub revealed last week.

Clarke Gayford, Neve and Jacinda Ardern.
Clarke Gayford, Neve and Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Reuters

But while those popular characters seem to be influencing some of our newest parents, the same effect doesn't seem to be happening from popular politicians.

Like Daenerys, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a well-liked and powerful woman. She exploded into the spotlight in 2017, with so-called Jacinda-mania spreading across New Zealand and around the world.

Her balance of motherhood and Prime Ministerial duties, speech at the United Nations and response to the Christchurch mosque attacks are just a few examples of moments of her reign which have attracted international praise.

But while she continues to blow the competition away in the preferred Prime Minister stakes, nearly no one wants their child to share her name.

Information provided to Newshub reveals that in 2016 and 2017 - the year of her rise to fame - not a single New Zealand baby was named 'Jacinda'.

In 2018, however - her first year as a major household name - there was an increase to "fewer than 10 children" being graced with her name, according to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

But up to May this year, there have been none.

For comparison, in 2018, 11 Kiwi babies were called Khaleesi.

The DIA, which looks after records of birth, noted that this data only reflects how many children have been given the name 'Jacinda' with that specific spelling.

The names 'Clarke' and 'Neve' don't fare much better either. In 2016, 2017, and 2018 fewer than 10 people were named 'Clarke' - but none have been between January and May this year.

Twenty babies were called 'Neve' in 2016, 23 in 2017, 11 in 2018 and fewer than 10 so far this year.

But can the number of babies named after a politician be a sign of political popularity? Not if international comparisons are anything to go by.

For example, while the number of babies called 'Barack' after Barack Obama's election rose dramatically in the US, it then began steadily declining. Despite that, Obama was easily reelected in 2012 and continues to be considered one of the US' most popular Presidents.

Barack Obama, Jacinda Ardern, Daenerys Targaryan.
Barack Obama, Jacinda Ardern, Daenerys Targaryan. Photo credit: Getty / Newshub / HBO

In 2016, the year of Brexit, only three Nigels were born in England and Wales - despite Nigel Farage given a solid spotlight as he sold the idea of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

Naming children after political figures used to be popular with the likes of John F Kennedy, but as the culture divide widens and partisan politics becomes more volatile, people may not want to name their baby after someone they love one day and despise the next.

While the Game of Thrones example shows some acceptance of exotic monikers, it could also be that Kiwis just simply prefer more traditional names than 'Jacinda'.

In 2018, the DIA says the most popular girl's name was 'Charlotte', while for boys it was "'Oliver'. 'Jacinda' has never made the list - meaning at least it hasn't suddenly become less popular.

So if leading into the 2020 election year, Ardern doesn't see 'Jacinda' listed as one of New Zealand's most popular names - she shouldn't be too concerned.