Humphrey, our ele­phant seal

Katikati Advertiser - - Your Community Voice -

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.

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