(a) Thing, not necessarily physical object (often used because of lack of information instead of a more precise word).
Tē kave nei koe i tēnā mea ki ‘ea?
Where are you taking that thing?;
Tēia te mea tāku e manako nei i te rave.
Here is the thing I have in mind to do;
‘ē rua paunu i te mea ‘okota‘i,
two pounds for each article.
(b) Used essentially as a proform, or as a vague place-holder for a noun where the following attribute is semantically more important.
E ‘iri koe i te au mea meariki.
Sort out the little ones;
‘E mea kino te matangi.
The wind was something awful;
‘E mea kē!
It was quite exceptional!;
‘E mea roa tō‘ou ‘akapupū-‘anga i tēnā tīkatā vai.
You are taking a long time to boil that kettle of water;
Kāre rava e mea ou i raro ake i te rā nei.
There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1.9).
(c) Reason, cause. Nō te mea, i te mea, because.
KAre au e tae atu ki te ‘anga‘anga āpōpō, nō te mea, ka āru au i te aronga tautai.
I shan’t be able to get to work tomorrow because I‘m going with the fishing party;
I te mea ē kāre ‘aia i papa, kua vao‘o‘ia te ‘uipā‘anga.
Because he wasn’t ready, the meeting was postponed. ‘E a‘a te mea…ei?, why?
‘E a‘a te mea i tāvarevare ei koe?
Why are you late?
(d) Used as a diminutive, sometimes disparagingly, a bit, little one(s), a few, a small quantity, nothing very much.
‘E mea tamā‘ine kīkī,
a plump little girl;
‘e mea karo ‘ua,
just a bit of a quarrel, a tiff;
Te mea varāoa nei ā‘au i ‘oko mai ei!
You haven’t brought very much bread!;
‘E mea ‘anga‘anga tāku kā tuku atu au kia rave koe.
I’ve got a little job for you to do.
2. prop.n. So-and-so, what’s-it-called, what’s-his-name. Also used (impolitely) in addressing unidentified people.
Kua ‘aere ‘a mea ki te tautai.
So-and-so has gone fishing;
Nō mea tēia vaka, nō Tāne.
This canoe belongs to what’s-his-name, Tāne;
Ē mea mā! ‘E a‘a kōtou i no‘o ‘ua ai i kona?
Hey you lot! What are you hanging about there for?
3. (meā‘ia). Used with wide range of meanings, almost as a proverb (do, make). Do something, bring something, be about to do something, say, tell, think, wish.
Kāre mātou i kite ē nā ‘ai i mea i te toka kia purupururū ki raro i te va‘arua.
We don’t know who it was made the stones fall down the hole;
Kā mea tāua? Ka a‘a? Ka ‘aere ka pā‘ī tai.
Shall we do something? What? Let’s go and have a bathe;
Kua oti te torōka i te meā‘ia kia ‘aere mai kia tiki ia tātou.
The truck has been told (arrangements have been made) to come and fetch us;
E mea koe iāia kia ‘aere ki te ‘ura āpōpō.
Get her to come to the dance tomorrow;
Kua mea au iāia kia ‘oki mai ki te ‘āpi‘i.
I made him come back to school;
Kua mea mai ‘aia kiāku kia āru iāia.
He made (told, asked, gestured to) me come with him;
Mea ‘ua atu au ē kā ‘oki tāua.
I just say (think) that we should go back;
Mea ‘ua atu au ē ka rauka ia tāua i te no‘o roa mai.
I only wish that we could manage to stay longer.
(See ‘akamea(mea); meangiti, meangitikā, meamea, (‘aka)-meameā‘au, (‘aka-,tā-)-meariki, (‘aka-,tā-)-mearikiriki.)