Larry & Jane Robbins - Auckland New Zealand
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It is a natural human instinct to mark life's change-points and mileposts through ceremony or festivity. The arrival of a new member of the family is such a time. The naming ceremony is our opportunity to welcome the child into our family circle, and to consider the differences and changes that the child will make to us all.

Those with active religious beliefs will undertake a ceremony such as christening (in the Christian church) or the Jewish mitzvah. Even in the Baptist church (where adults are baptised on their profession of faith rather than 'christening' as a baby) a baby dedication service is often held.

The forms of the various types of ceremony often follow similar themes and share the generally common purposes of expressing our joy in the child, welcoming into the family, expressing our hopes for the future etc.

A Naming ceremony is one such ceremony.  It imposes no obligations but does serve the purposes mentioned above. It will be up to the child, when he or she is of a suitable age, to make any religious or non-religious commitments of belief for themselves. The child will, however, always know that the family has cared sufficiently to have formally welcomed them with due thought, happiness, love and joy.

It is usual to conduct a naming ceremony in the first few months of a child's life, though again there is no strict rule.

If the child is older, the ceremony can be more of a 'welcoming' ceremony than a naming ceremony.

We will work together to develop exactly the service you want, though of course I can provide, as a starting point, some outlines of other services that have worked well.

In the Christian church, godparents undertake to see that the child is brought up in the Christian faith, and in times past would probably become the child's guardian should the parents die early. Today it is traditional to ask two relatives or friends (usually one man and one woman although there is no 'rule') to become 'supporting adults' or 'mentors', 'or special friends' or 'godparents' (which still has a special meaning in the secular world in the same way as the child may have a 'christian name'). These people pledge to take a special interest in the child's development and to support the parents. They can also be there in the future, as a refuge for the child outside the immediate family circle.

There is also the opportunity for family members and friends to be 'honoured' by their inclusion in the ceremony by reading a poem or special verse, by offering prayers for the child (this can be very important for grandparents whose children have no particular religious adherence), singing etc. Often the child wears a special gown which may have a long family tradition, or be made from the mother's wedding dress, or be otherwise specially made for the purpose and thus commence a family tradition!

You may have a special baby book for guests to sign, and I will usually prepare a certificate for the child and another for each godparent as a memoire of the occasion which the parents and godparents will sign. This can be part of the ceremony or a separate activity. The ceremony can end with a toast and the cutting of a cake or this can be a separate part of the day as part of a special lunch or other meal.  

You will note that there are, indeed, many alternatives and possible combinations.  What is certain is that the ceremony will be special to you, your child and to the occasion.


As a naming or welcoming ceremony is not a 'legal' requirement, you can use anyone to conduct the ceremony, though it is advisable to use the services of an experienced celebrant. If you wish, I will be very happy to act as celebrant for you.

I'm Larry Robbins. I served for 26 years in the Royal New Zealand Navy. I commanded naval ships and for 18 months served as an honorary aide-de-campe to the Governor General of New Zealand. I thus have some experience of formal functions and ceremony.

In a naming or welcoming ceremony I try to work with the family in such a way that all your family and friends, what ever their background, can relate to what is being said. Most parents choose to hold the ceremony at the start of a celebratory party or meal, either at their own home, grandparents' home or at a special venue. If the weather is fine, the ceremony can take place in the garden and the ceremony can be as long or short as you wish, but the ceremony itself usually lasts a maximum of about fifteen minutes.


I do not charge for my time but ask that you refund any out-of-pocket expenses (these will be agreed beforehand). I do not require any expenses within the local Auckland area. If we decide to proceed, I also ask that you make a donation of about $NZ 200 to:

The International Sailors' Society (welfare work amongst seafarers);

Please place your donation in a sealed envelope with the chosen cause noted on the outside and pass it to me before the ceremony.  I will ensure that it is passed on and that you receive a receipt for tax purposes. Please note that should I have married the child's parents I do not request a donation for the naming of the first child.

WHAT NOW? Should all of this strike a chord with you and you would like to know the best way to start preparing a ceremony for your baby or child, then you might like to contact me.

Larry Robbins OBE
42 Knights Road
Rothesay Bay
Auckland 0630

Telephone 09 478 4782
Mobile 021 182 4545

Email: L(at)

There is no obligation upon you. You may change your mind at any stage without feeling that you will offend me!


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