All good things must come to an end – and, apparently, that goes for wizardry as well. In 2021, New Zealand’s wizard didn’t have his contract renewed.
The official Wizard of New Zealand
For 23 years, the city of Christchurch footed the bill to pay Ian Brackenbury Channell (now age 89) to promote the city through “acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services.” At $16,000 a year, Channell was paid a total of $368,000.
According to The Guardian (cited below), it all began when “[t]he Wizard, who was born in England, began performing acts of wizardry and entertainment in public spaces shortly after arriving in New Zealand in 1976.”
No one had asked for a wizard, so the council tried to make him stop. But the public was smitten with him.
“In 1982, the New Zealand Art Gallery Directors Association said he had become a living work of art, and then, in 1990, the prime minister at the time, Mike Moore, asked that he consider becoming the Wizard of New Zealand.”
Christchurch’s wizarding era
Moore wrote to Channell:
‘I am concerned that your wizardry is not at the disposal of the entire nation. I suggest therefore that you should urgently consider my suggestion that you become the Wizard of New Zealand, Antarctica and relevant offshore areas … no doubt there will be implications in the area of spells, blessings, curses, and other supernatural matters that are beyond the competence of mere Prime Ministers.”
He’s appeared at official functions, performed rain dances, and then got himself in a bit of trouble…
New Zealand’s wizard loses his magic
After making comments about “devious” women and trying to joke about beating them, the council thanked him for his years of service and terminated his contract with the city.
The Wizard himself believes it’s all because bureaucrats are boring and don’t want to take his suggestions on improving tourism.
The Wizard is still around, but he’s not being paid by the city anymore. Instead, he’s running for mayor in 2022. — WTF fun facts