After 23 magical years of public service, the Wizard of New Zealand’s position as the nation’s official minister of the mystical realm has now been poofed away.
Known officially as the Wizard, given name Ian Brackenbury Channell, the 88-year-old mythic political leader was under contract with Christchurch city council for more than two decades, whose purpose it was to perform “acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services.”
Earlier this year, the council notified the Wizard that his contract with Christchurch would be terminated, along with his government salary of about $10,000 ($16,000 AUD) per year. The announcement came following his own statements that he was searching for a worthy successor.
The sorcerer of English progeny was invited into public service by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Mike Moore in 1990. By then, he’d become a symbol of spiritual freedom — and national whimsy — after defeating council protests in the late 1970s, who opposed his public displays of wizardry.
“I am concerned that your wizardry is not at the disposal of the entire nation,” Moore wrote in his letter to Channell, according to a Guardian report. “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.”
His spellbinding term in office included ritualistic performances to encourage rain during a drought.
But his odd charms may be no match for the forces of social media. Viewers bristled when the Wizard made a sexist joke on “New Zealand Today,” claiming that women “use cunning to get men who are thick” — meaning dumb.
“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 neighbors and their friends … and then you’re in big trouble.”
Christchurch spokesperson Lynn McClelland has since said the city is taking a new direction with tourism and entertainment. She thanked him for his service and assured him he’d be “forever be a part of [Christchurch’s] history.”
The Wizard said in a statement that he believes his office is being canceled because it no longer “vibes” with the city.
“It implies that I am boring and old, 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,’’ he said.