News

Wands down for Ian: The Wizard of New Zealand is getting the axe

Ian Brackenbury Channell – The Wizard of New Zealand – has been fired from his role after two decades of working for Christchurch’s Council.

When not brewing potions or studying the laws of magic, the 88-year-old spellcaster had worked in his city’s tourism sector – “promot[ing] the city through ‘acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services’.

Channell was paid $16,000 NZD a year, racking up a respectable $368,000 NZD over the course of his career.

The Wizard of New Zealand
Image: William West AFP/File

However, all good things must come to an end, and Christchurch City Council explained their decision to letting go of their unique icon.

According to assistant chief executive, Lynn McClelland, the council’s desire to revamp their tourism industry is the driving force behind ending their contract with The Wizard:

“The council has met with The Wizard and sent him a letter thanking him for his services to Christchurch over the past decades, and informing him that we are bringing our formal contractual arrangement to a close,” McClelland said as quoted by US-based media outlet, npr.

“[Our aim for tourism is to] increasingly reflect our diverse communities and showcase a vibrant, diverse, modern city that is attractive to residents, domestic and international visitors, new businesses, and skilled migrant workers,” McClelland said.

Reportedly, Channell will receive his last paycheck this December.

Understandably, he’s not thrilled with the development.

“It implies that I am old and boring, but there is nobody else anything like me in Christchurch,

“It’s just they don’t like me because they are boring old bureaucrats and everyone likes me and no one likes them.”

During his time as The Wizard, Channell challenged the status quo while calling upon his supernatural powers to help the community.

He was known for protesting “against the demolition of heritage buildings after the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes”, performing rain dances in drought-affected areas and repainting the city’s “new blue [telephone] boxes to their original red” in 1988.

But with great power comes great responsibility, and Channell was no stranger to controversy.

In April, The Wizard made headlines for controversial statements he made on the New Zealand comedy show, New Zealand Today.

According to The Guardian, Channell appeared onscreen to explain why he likes “to tease women”.

Wizard of New Zealand
Image: Phil Noble/Reuters

“I love women, I forgive them all the time, I’ve never struck one yet. Never strike a woman because they bruise too easily is the first thing, and they’ll tell the neighbours and their friends … and then you’re in big trouble,” Channell reportedly said.

Born in London in 1932, Channell originally worked as a Royal Air Force Navigator, before receiving “a B.A. Double Honours in Psychology and Sociology”. He travelled around the Middle East, eventually settling down to teach in Teheran before moving to Australia as a Teaching Fellow.

His first wizarding role was the Wizard of the University of New South Wales (1969) after the university’s Vice Chancellor and Students’ Union bestowed the honour onto him.