City Fires 'Wizard' It Employed for 2 Decades

City of Christchurch will no longer be needing the services of Ian Brackenbury Channell
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2021 7:15 AM CDT
New Zealand's Resident 'Wizard' Just Got Sacked
The Wizard of Christchurch, aka Ian Brackenbury Channell, casts a "spell" during a television interview in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 2, 2011.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Ian Brackenbury Channell has an entire Wikipedia page devoted to him, with a title not many (if any) can claim: the Wizard of New Zealand. It looks like the 88-year-old sorcerer may be hanging up his long black robe for good, however, at least officially, after the city of Christchurch recently informed him he's been booted off the payroll, reports the Guardian. How much does a wizard actually make these days? Channell was being paid around $11,000 a year tax-free, meaning over the past 23 years he's been in the city's employ, the municipality has shelled out more than $250,000.

Channell, who was put under contract in 1998 to promote the city via his "acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services," is a UK native who made headlines as soon as he showed up in Christchurch in the mid-'70s. When officials tried to stop him from ascending his ladder in the city square, decked out in his black cloak and pointy hat and offering his sage wizard advice, the public pushed back—the square was instead deemed a public speaking area and Channell was left to his devices, per the BBC.

By 1982, Channell had been designated a work of art by the New Zealand Art Gallery Directors Association, and in 1990, then-Prime Minister Mike Moore asked him if he'd accept the honor of becoming the Wizard of New Zealand to take care of all "spells, blessings, curses, and other supernatural matters," per the Guardian. In 1998, Christchurch hired him as its official "necromancer," per Insider, and he's even been awarded the Queen's Service Medal for his contributions to the community.

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Not that Channell has escaped controversy: He's made eyebrow-raising comments about women, noting in an April interview that he thought women were devious and that he'd never hit a woman "because they bruise too easily." He's also said that women cause wars by shopping and started a "Save the Males" campaign, per a 2011 documentary about him. A Christchurch representative tells Stuff that Channell will receive his final paycheck out of the tourism budget in December. Channell tells the outlet that city officials are "a bunch of bureaucrats who have no imagination" and that he'll continue performing for tourists and locals. "I don't like being canceled," he says. "They will have to kill me to stop me," he says. (More New Zealand stories.)

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