NZ judge turns on parents in name blame


A judge has attacked a trend in New Zealand for giving children strange names as he made a nine-year-old called Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii a ward of court.

Family Court Judge Rob Murfitt listed a series of unfortunate names that he said were embarrassing or made children seem foolish among their peers.

Some names, including Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit, were blocked by registration officials, he said. But others were allowed, including Number 16 Bus Shelter, Midnight Chardonnay, and Violence, the judge noted.

The names were mentioned in his decision on a custody battle over the nine-year-old girl from the North Island town of Hawera, who was so embarrassed at the name her parents had given her - Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii - that she never told her closest friends what it was.

She told people her name was “K” because she feared being “mocked and teased,” the girl’s lawyer told the court.

“The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment which this child’s parents have shown in choosing this name,” Judge Murfitt wrote. “It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily.”

He ordered that the court take custody of her until the name could be formally changed, which has since occurred and the custody dispute settled. The new name is being kept secret to protect the girl’s privacy.

The ruling was handed down in February, but only came to light today when it was published in the New Zealand Law Reports.

Brian Clarke, the registrar general of Births, Deaths and Marriages, said New Zealand law does not allow names that would offend a reasonable person, that are 100 characters or more long, that include titles or military rank or that include punctuation marks or numerals.

He said officials usually talked to parents who proposed unusual names to convince them about the potential for embarrassment.