Are you old enough?

People often want to ask “how old are you?” in te reo. There’s a couple of common ways that I’ve heard (and dislike).

E hia ō tau?
How many years do you have?

E waru ōku tau.
I have eight years.

E hia tō pakeke?
How many (years) is your age?

E waru ngā tau tōku pakeke.
My age is eight years.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the word pakeke means adult and sometimes elder, so the latter example sounds odd to some people particularly if you’re talking about children’s ages. It’s an attempt at translating how many years old but to them it sounds like how many years elderly. It’s up to you which you prefer, just expect some occasional odd looks.

You can use ka and kua for future and past to say how old you will be or how old you are now.

Kua tekau mā waru ō tau?
Have you turned eighteen?

Ā tērā marama ka 25 ōku tau.
I’m turning 25 next month.

Personally I prefer the use of ordinal numbers (i.e. first, second, third) that you find in older writing. I’m not sure why it’s fallen out of favour because it sounds really lovely (although the  English is weird).

He whakangahau mō te 21 o ōna tau
A celebration for his 21st year

Ko tēhea o ō tau tēnei?
Which of your years is this?

Ko te 30 o ngā tau tēnei.
This my thirtieth year.

Kāore anō au kia pahure te 40 o ngā tau.
I haven’t yet passed my 40th.

Ka pātata atu ki te tuawaru o ōna tau
She’s approaching her eighth year

Isn’t that pretty? Take a look at that last example; in English we say eighth birthday, we don’t say eighth year. While you do hear this in te reo sometimes, it’s a bit clunky.

Ka pātata atu ki tōna rā whanau tuawaru
She’s approaching her eighth birthday

Sounds weird, right? Ask someone for their ‘eighth year’ instead of their ‘eighth birthday’.

Āhea te tuawaru o ō tau?
When is your eighth year?

Ā tērā wiki.
Next week.

Now, I haven’t seen it written down anywhere so I can’t be completely authoritative but I’m pretty sure you can also say it like this.

Āhea tō tau tuawaru?
When is your eighth year?

Compare that with using rā whānau when asking for the actual birth date.

Āhea tō rā whānau?
When’s your birthday?

Ā te tuawhitu o Poutū-te-rangi.
On the seventh of March.

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