Written by Simon George.
Akanihi Himiona (Agnes Simeon) was born in 1844 near the present day town of Te Awamutu in the Waikato. She was christened Agnes Flora McAlpin(e), her mother being Rawinia Te Rangikawawe and her father James McAlpin(e). Amongst her people she was known by her tribal ancestral name, Kurakitoro. Akanihi's mother may have been taken by Waikato raiders. It is believed that James McAlpin(e) came to New Zealand in 1841. After arrival he lived amongst the Maori in the Waikato in the years 1842-1848.
Akanihi was of Taranaki-tuturu having whakapapa connections to many hapu of that iwi. Her grandfather was Tarakete of the Nga Mahanga hapu and he was a great grandson of the Nga Mahanga chief, Rangimohuta, father of Raumahora who famously married Takarangi of Te Atiawa bringing peace between the two iwi. Tarakete was referred to as a noted tohunga in Akanihi's obituary. Her grandmother was Waikauri of the Ngati Haumia hapu.
Despite having no father present some funds must have been provided as Akanihi was fortunate to be educated at the Rev. John Morgan's school for 'half-caste' Maori children at Te Awamutu. Her mother married a second time to Hakopa Ngaruhe and they had Akanihi's two younger half-brothers - Ruhe (Tuari) and Te Mira Wharepouri Hakopa. There are living descendants today from Ruhe (Tuari) Hakopa.
By the late 1850s her education completed and land wars looking imminent in the Waikato, Akanihi along with many others was brought back to Taranaki. From 1860-1865 she lived and cultivated with her people in Taranaki learning her family traditions. She was for a time clerk of the stores at Hangaatahua (Stoney River) near present day Okato.
Having married Frederick Simeon, a young army volunteer from Australia, in Wanganui in 1866 and after spending time there and then in Napier, Akanihi and Frederick settled in Wellington in 1872. Akanihi is recorded as being "the only woman that came from Taranaki residing in Te Aro pa" as of the mid to late 1870s. She was related to many of the Te Aro elders such as Mohi Ngaponga, Te Teira Whatakore, Hori Ngapaka, Te Munu Ohiro and probably Hemi Parai. She was also related to Te Whiti o Rongomai, Tohu Kakahi, Wiremu Kingi Matakatea and Wi Tako Ngatata through the Taranaki iwi side of their lineages.
Akanihi and family spent some years in the 1880s and again in the 1890s living on ancestral lands back in Taranaki - near Warea and Opunake. During the period 1893 to 1895 they owned and ran the Rahotu hotel and store. Although not followers of Te Whiti and Tohu, Akanihi and Frederick became prominent at the time of the appalling treatment of Parihaka resistors. They paid advertising rates to relay to the nation information gained directly from prisoners coming back on the boats having served their prison terms in Dunedin. Akanihi gave evidence in several Maori Land Court cases either representing herself or the interests of others. She also wrote a number of letters to the Governors-General of the day, about the loss of Maori land in Taranaki and the slowness of the governments of the day to live up to Native land compensation court findings of the mid 1860s.
About 1896 the Simeons came back to Wellington for good. They lived at Johnsonville as Akanihi had an interest in Section 8 of Block 11 of the Wiremutaone Maori Reserve. Akanihi succeeded to the land interests of Te Teira Whatakore and Hori Ngapaka in the Wellington area and was awarded interests in several land blocks in Taranaki. At the time of her death her land holdings included parts of Ohiro Rural Section no. 19 subdivision no.8, Ohiro Rural Section no.21 in the Wellington area and about 1000 acres of land in Taranaki near Oakura, Warea, Rahotu and Opunake.
By the time Akanihi died, on 25 August 1909, she had gifted a section to each of her 10 children in the Johnsonville land. The children were Rawinia Wilcher, Miriama Moore, Henrietta Flegeltaub, Mohi Ngaponga Himiona, Te Ngahue Ada Saunders Hemi Himiona, Te Teira Whatakore Himiona, Whitianga Akanihi Himiona (later Ellison), Maramaiterangi Ell, and Waikauri Ross (later Hynes). Many descendants from these children live all over the world today.
Akanihi was buried in the Simeon plot in the Bolton Street Cemetery
1. Akanihi Himiona obituary - Taranaki Herald 27 August, 1909
2. Frederick Simeon obituary - Evening Post 12 June, 1919
3. Evening Post, January 4th, 5th, 7th 1881.
4. Minutes of Native Land Commission hearing at Waitara, Saturday, 6th March, 1880 p.26-
5. Minutes of Compensation Court held at New Plymouth, Tuesday, 11th October, 1866. Ropata Ngarongomate deponent for claimants including claimant 64, Akanihi Himiona (Simeon) family papers
6. WMB no .1 p.345
7. WMB no. 2.p. 31
8. WMB no.12 p.330
9. WMB no.15 p.62-66
10. WMB no.17 p.34-35 Probate
11. Wanganui Appellate Court MB no.6 p.22-24 ;
12. Wanganui Appellate Court MB no. 8 p.209-213
13. Taranaki MB 3 p.197-201, 247-248
14. Taranaki MB 4 p. 8-121