New Zealand's all-time most popular names revealed

John, David, William, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth have topped the list of the most popular baby names in New Zealand over the past 120 years.

The Department of Internal Affairs has compiled a 'Top Baby Names of All Time' list, tracking the trend in baby names between 1900 to 2019.

The most popular name used between 1919 and 2019 is John, which saw its peak in 1947, with more than 1600 boys receiving this name.

While the number of boys and girls born is about the same, the variety of boys names has traditionally been narrower, so the top name for boys has many more than the top name for girls.

James, William, Thomas and Elizabeth have been the most consistently popular over the past 100 years, with most other names having a clear peak.

Most of the top 20 girls' names peaked before the 21st century, with Emma, Sarah and Jessica the most recent to peak in popularity.

Most of the current top names do not feature in this list of the most popular names ever.

Top 10 boys' names: John, David, William, James, Michael, Robert, Peter, Thomas, Andrew, Paul.

Top 10 girls' names: Margaret, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, Patricia, Susan, Helen, Jennifer, Christine, Karen.

Tauranga woman, Eleanor Burkin has been keeping records of baby names in New Zealand for more than 30 years.

She said she was surprised to see that the most popular names in the last century aren't really popular anymore.

Burkin said she was particularly surprised by the girls' names.

"It's all because of fashion and of course those names, Elizabeth, Margaret and Mary, those were names the royal family used so they were very, very popular in the past.

"People probably think they're a bit dated for a first name and they're more used as second names now," she said.

She said the boys' names have stood the test of time, or circled back into fashion a bit more.

"William, David and John, well they are still very, very good classic names, but other names have taken over, people sort of want something different."

Burkin said she has noticed a lot of boys with surnames as first names now, as well as a resurgence in biblical names.