Kentish Hotel

5 Queen Street, Waiuku

  • Kentish Hotel.
    Copyright: Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Mikesmale. Date: 25/10/2010.
  • Courtesy of Kentish Hotel.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 535 Date Entered 7th April 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 9‐10 DP 11645 (CT NA844/284), North Auckland Land District, and the buildings and structures known as the Kentish Hotel thereon.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Franklin District Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lots 9‐10 DP 11645 (CT NA844/284), North Auckland Land District


The Kentish Hotel is a visually imposing timber hotel, located close to the site of the nineteenth-century wharf in Waiuku. Initially built by early 1852 and modified in 1876-7 and 1897, it has historical significance for its close links with the town’s emergence and development as a colonial commercial centre on the Manukau Harbour. As one of Waiuku’s oldest public buildings, the hotel has been the venue of numerous important activities and events in the history of the settlement and broader region. These include public meetings to request the district’s first Resident Magistrate in 1858 and school in 1869; and stays by notable figures that include the colonial governor, Sir George Grey (1812-1898) in 1861, and Kingitanga leader, King Tawhiao (?-1894), in 1886.

Waiuku lies on an important traditional route connecting the Manukau Harbour and Waikato River via the Awaroa portage. After 1840, Maori traders used the route extensively to transport produce from the Waikato to the colonial capital at Auckland. As European merchants sought to intercept this trade, government authorities surveyed land for a colonial settlement at Waiuku, initially offering allotments for sale in 1851. One of the prime available sections, located closest to the wharf, was obtained by a prominent early colonial businessman, Edward Constable (c.1816-1893). Constable had previously been involved in trade at Onehunga, and in the early 1850s also operated a cutter service across the harbour, linking Waiuku directly with its market on the Auckland isthmus.

Constable had erected a ‘good hotel’ on the site by 1852, to the substantial value of £350. Its construction is said to have marked the beginning of the European settlement of Waiuku as a trading centre. In January 1853, Constable applied for a licence to sell alcohol from the establishment, proposing that it be called the Kentish Hotel. By 1857 the complex included stabling and had been modified to provide ‘superior accommodation’. Photographs from the 1860s show a large, two-storeyed timber building of Georgian design, with a hipped roof and a simple balcony on its elevation to Queen Street, the town’s main thoroughfare.

After the land confiscations associated with the third New Zealand - or Waikato - War (1863-4), Waiuku’s economy increasingly depended on European farming and industries such as flax-milling. In 1866, Constable erected a large hall immediately behind the hotel. In 1876-7, he also undertook improvements that included a two-storey extension at the north end of the building. Erected by the local firm of Hennessey and Hammond, the addition contained five extra bedrooms on its upper floor, and two parlours and a large hall on its lower storey. Although the hotel was generally leased to other landlords from the mid-1850s onwards, Constable retained ownership of the property until his death in 1893.

Inherited by Constable’s heir, Susannah Sharp, the hotel underwent significant modifications in 1897, providing it with its current imposing appearance. Pressure from the temperance movement frequently led local police and licensing committees to require improvements in hotel appearance and facilities at this time. Remodelling is said to have involved rebuilding the 1850s part of the hotel using new timber, although the actual extent of replacement is unclear. The contractor was a local builder, Samuel Thomas Rossiter, who had previously been involved in constructing the Waiuku Courthouse and several structures further afield, including the Takapuna residence of newspaper proprietor Sir Henry Brett. The remodelled hotel held a large number of rooms and presented an impressive, symmetrical appearance to Queen Street, having a double-storeyed verandah along its full frontage and a central cross-gable.

Since its initial creation, the hotel has been used not only for accommodation and recreation, but also important civic functions such as elections, coroner’s inquests and public meetings - including those which requested the first Resident Magistrate for the district in 1858, and the first school in 1869. Notable figures to stay at the premises included, in 1861, the colonial Governor, Sir George Grey, who had been instrumental in setting up the township, and the Kingitanga leader, King Tawhiao, in 1886. The hotel continued to provide a backdrop for significant events within the community during the twentieth century, including receptions for leading national politicians such as John Seddon and William Massey. Alterations to the property have included the addition of balustrading on the ground floor verandah between 1911 and 1923; demolition of the 1866 rear hall; construction of a large rear addition; and the creation a separate garden bar structure to the north of the main building in circa 2007. Still operating licensed premises and accommodation in 2015, the place is notable for having been used for the same purposes for more than 160 years.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

S. T. Rossiter

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Hennessy and Hammond, builders

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1852 -

1857 -

1876 - 1877
Two-storey addition at north end

1897 -
Rebuilding of 1850s structure, incorporating a double-storey balcony and central cross-gable

Additional building added to site
2007 -
Separate garden bar structure to north

Completion Date

5th June 2015

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Auckland Star

Auckland Star

Auckland Star (AS), 15 Jan 1891, p .3; AS, 24 Mar 1897, p. 8.

Auckland Waikato Historical Society Journal

Auckland Waikato Historical Society Journal

Muir, Brian ‘Early Waiuku, Edward Constable and the ‘Kentish Hotel’’, Auckland- Waikato Historical Journal, Sep 88, No.53, pp. 34-5 & Apr 1989, No.54, pp. 4-5.

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.2, Christchurch, 1902

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol.2: Auckland Provincial District, 1902, Christchurch, pp. 676, 680 & 683.

Daily Southern Cross

Daily Southern Cross

Daily Southern Cross, 16 Feb 1855, p. 3; 12 Oct 1855, p. 3; 15 May 1857, p. 1; 5 Feb 1858, p. 3; 17 Dec 1861, p. 3; 20 Apr 1866, p. 5; 18 Apr 1871, p. 3; 8 Aug 1874, p. 3.

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

New Zealand Herald, 6 Apr 1869, p. 7; 25 May 1869, p. 6; 2 Dec 1869, p. 7; 24 Jun 1876, p. 2; 24 Aug 1876, p. 1; 1 May 1886, p. 6; 9 Jun 1896, p. 6; 6 May 1897, p. 6; Sep 1901, p. 1.

New Zealander

New Zealander

New Zealander, 4 Aug 1849, p. 2; 7 Aug 1849, p. 1; 29 Dec 1852, p. 2.

Morris, 1965

Nona Morris, Early Days in Franklin: A Centennial History, [Pukekohe], 1965

Muir, 1983

Muir, Brian, Waiuku and Districts: The Romantic Years, Waiuku, 1983.

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand