The PJ Tatler

The Freedom to Name your Child as You Like


Under the amplitude of the First Amendment to the Constitution, Americans are allowed to name their children as they see fit, as Frank Zappa vividly demonstrated when he named his daughter Moon Unit in 1967. Only one of her siblings was given a more usual first name, her brother, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan Zappa, (born 1974) although his two middle names certainly live up to the family tradition. Her other siblings are her brother Dweezil (born 1969) and youngest sister Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa, born in 1979. This freedom to name is not, however, universal.

Indeed, three families in New Zealand, all of whom sought to name their sons after the anti-hero of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Lucifer, were told by the country’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages that this was against the law.  According to Australia’s Herald-Sun, neighboring New Zealand has cracked down on a variety of names, including those with punctuation marks instead of letters, as well as 102 other specific names that the Kiwi government believes are too close to titles, including Baron, Bishop, Duke, General, Judge, Justice, King, Knight and Mr. Luckily for him, National Journal’s Major Garrett was born and named here.

Other verboten names in  New Zealand include Messiah and 89, as well as the letters C, D, I and T.  Which means that Ice-T is as lucky as Major Garrett to have been born in the U.S.A., although his birth name was Tracy Marrow, and Ice-T a stage name of his own choosing.


According to the Sun-Herald, “The ruling marks a new hard line for the agency, which made headlines worldwide in 2008 when it approved strange monikers including Benson and Hedges (twins named after the cigarette brand), and Violence and Number 16 Bus Shelter, both for boys.”