Hei is used to mean ‘for, ‘as’, ‘to’, ‘as a means of’ and ‘to be used as’. There is a future purpose implied with hei. It is used to denote purpose or intention. The following examples should help clarify this usage of hei.
Hei aha ēnā hū?
What are those shoes for?
Hei purei whutupōro.
For playing football.
Hei aha te oka?
What is the butcher’s knife for?
Hei tapahi i te mīti.
For cutting the meat.
Hei aha te miraka?
What is the milk for?
Hei whāngai i ngā pēpi.
For feeding the babies.
Notice in the answers that hei is always followed by a verb. It is important to know that hei is followed by active verbs that take both indirect and direct objects. It is not used with verbs in the passive or with statives.
Anei te oka hei tapahi i te miti.
Here is the butcher’s knife to chop the meat.
Kaua e wareware tō rorohiko hei tuhi i ō kōrero.
Don’t forget your computer to write your story.
Mauria mai he pākete hei kohi i te one.
Bring me a bucket to collect the sand in.
Ko tēnei te pahi hei mau i a tātou ki te kura.
This is the bus to take us to school.
It is also important to note that while hei is often translated as ‘to’ or ‘for’ in English, its usage is different from that of ki te which is also often translated as ‘to’ or ‘for’.
He naihi tēnei hei tapahi i te miti.
This is a knife to cut the meat.
Kei te haere ia ki te tapahi i te miti.
He is going to chop the meat.
Tirohia ngā pikitia, ka whakautu ai i ngā pātai.
Kei wareware i a koe ngā piko, ngā tohu pātai, ngā ira kati me ngā tohutō i ngā wāhi e tika ana.