Humphrey, our elephant seal
Humphrey, the wooden sculpture at The Landing is a southern elephant seal, not a sea lion as stated in last week’s Advertiser.
Humphrey is No 24 in Katikati Open-Air Art’s outdoor art gallery.
The large elephant seal became quite a celebrity when visiting various parts of Katikati, Bowentown, Kauri Point, Tuapiro and the Uretara Stream between 1985 to 1989.
It’s believed the first sighting of Humphrey was in March 1984 when he was seen at Mayor Island. In 1985 he spent Christmas in the Katikati area and was first seen up the Uretara Stream and then at Tuapiro. Two years later in 1987 he was seen near Bowentown and in September 1989 was seen mooching among mangroves in the Tuapiro estuary.
It’s believed that Humphrey apparently missed his own kind and became keen on a cow for a time, following her quite a distance from the water. Obviously his attentions were not returned— his last visit was in 1989.
The southern elephant seal is the largest of the true seals. For the males the name is apt because they mature into huge creaturesmore than 5m long and weighing almost four tonnes, and as they grow older each develops a prominent wrinkled proboscis, somewhat like a short elephant trunk.
In 1996 Katikati chainsaw sculptor Neville Warner fashioned his recreation of Humphrey from amacrocarpa tree stump, by copying photographs. Many times over the years Humphrey has been maroonedwhen the Uretara stream floods, but he stands strong— the sentinel of Katikati town.
THE chainsaw sculpture of Humphrey at The Landing was created by artist NevilleWarner.
A photo of the real Humphrey— a southern elephant seal— was taken by Katikati photographer, the late Brian Chudleigh.