New Zealand loses its Wizard

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The official Wizard of New Zealand has had his role stopped by the Christchurch City Council.

The decision brings an end to the Wizard’s 23-year term as the Wizard of Christchurch and New Zealand.

The Wizard, whose real name is Ian Brackenbury Channell, is 88 years old.

He had been contracted to Christchurch City Council for the past two decades to promote the city through “acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services”. It has cost the Council $16,000 a year and over his term, he has been paid a total of $368,000.

The Wizard began performing acts of wizardry and entertainment in public spaces shortly after arriving in New Zealand in 1976.

When the council originally tried to stop him, the public protested and he was allowed to continue his talks in the Square.
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.

Since then he has performed in Christchurch, rain-danced in New Zealand and Australia during droughts, and was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The council said it had sent the Wizard a letter thanking him for his services to Christchurch over the past decades and informing him they were closing the book on his contract, a council spokesperson, Lynn McClelland, said.

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