It’s the first time

I’ve just finished reading Katerina Mataira’s book Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua (buy it, read it, love it!) and noticed the way she used the kātahi anō… ka… structure. Me, I only think of it in terms of “it just now happened”.

Kei te hiakai koe?
Are you hungry?

Kāo, kātahi anō au ka kai.
Nah, I just ate.

But if you’re smarter than I was, you’ll have looked it up in a dictionary and discovered that it can also mean for the first time.

Kātahi anō au ka tae mai ki konei.
This is the first time I’ve been here.

Kātahi anō te pēpi ka hīkoi.
The baby has just walked for the first time.

What I noticed in the novel was that it was used in places where I expected to see negative phrases, such as “I didn’t know that”, or “I’ve never done this before”.

I mārena a Hone rāua ko Mereana i tērā wiki.
Hone and Mereana got married last week.

Nē? Kāore au i te mōhio ki tēnā.
Really? I didn’t know that.

Of course this is once again a case of my assumptions (based on experience of English phrasing) being smacked down by the reality of Māori concepts. In Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua, they consistently use the phrase kātahi anō… ka… to convey the same sentiment.

I mārena a Hone rāua ko Mereana i tērā wiki.
Hone and Mereana got married last week.

Nē? Kātahi anō au ka mōhio ki tēnā.
Really? I’ve only just now learnt that.

What you’re actually saying is that you know now (because you were told just half a second ago) but didn’t know previously to that. So when you translate, you sometimes have to use negative constructions like “never before”, and other times phrases like “for the first time” depending on what works best in context.

Kātahi anō tēnei rākau ka hua.
This tree hadn’t fruited until now.

Kātahi anō tētahi ka wero atu ki te rūnanga.
Nobody has ever challenged the rūnanga before.

Kātahi anō ngā tamariki ka ruku.
The kids didn’t know how to dive until now.

Kātahi anō ia ka pēnei.
It’s never been like this before.

Kātahi anō tēnei ka mārama ki ahau.
I didn’t understand this until now.

Of course we couldn’t leave this post without a classic Madonna reference.

Me he puhi kātahi anō ia ka pāngia.
Like a virgin… touched for the very first time.

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5 thoughts on “It’s the first time

  1. Kia ora, tino pai rawa atu to pataka kupu me to mahi rangahau. He patai taaku. He aha te rereketanga o nga kupu “taea, …………… ahei.” He orite, he rereke ranei ?

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