Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.
Captain John Rudolphus Kent was prominent among the earliest shipmasters to trade along the East Coast. He is believed to have been the captain of that name who was in charge of the Prince Regent when, on 29 March, 1820, she became the first vessel to cross the Hokianga bar, and also when, in August, 1820, she negotiated the present entrance to Auckland. The initial “W” attached to the name “Kent” in Historical Records of New Zealand, Vol. 1, p. 487, should probably read “Mr.” for, on page 485, “W. Butler” appears for “Mr. Butler” and “W. Marsden” for “Mr. Marsden.” As master of the Mermaid, Kent revisited New Zealand in 1823 on behalf of the N.S.W. Government. In 1824 he was in charge of the Elizabeth Henrietta when she stranded on Ruapuke Island. According to Smith (Wars of the Nineteenth Century, p. 44) Kent was the first white man to settle at Kawhia (1824–26). He was back at sea in 1827. In Pakeha Rambles Through Maoriland, p. 11, the year in which Kent first put into Kawhia is given as 1828. He had charge of the Lord Liverpool in 1831. In Story of Te Waharoa, Wilson says: “The first European that landed at Kawhia and penetrated to Ngaruawahia was a pakeha-Maori, a gentleman of the name of Kent, who arrived at the latter place in 1831.” He was then the husband of Tiria, a daughter of Wherowhero te Potatau, who became the first Maori King. In 1832 Kent was residing at Kawhia. He was in charge of the Byron when she was lost at Mahia in 1833 (Polack's date). He died on 1 January, 1837, and, according to the Rev. J. Hamlin (whose MSS. journal is in the Hocken Library, Dunedin), his body was buried at Kahawai (Manukau) in a sacred place.