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New Zealand Ends Decades-Long Contract With Official Wizard Of Christchurch

Via BBC News:

Ian Brackenbury Channell, 88, was paid $11,280.00 (USD) a year to provide "acts of wizardry" and promote the city. However the city has now ended his contract, saying it is going in a more modern and diverse direction.

Christchurch is the only city to have had an official Wizard since 1982, the city council's website says. Mr Channell told local media that he no longer fitted "the vibes" of the city because he was a provocateur.

"They are a bunch of bureaucrats who have no imagination,'' he told the New Zealand news website, Stuff.

Since he started as the official wizard more than two decades ago, Mr Channell has been paid some $368,000 under a unique tax-free status.

According to his website, he holds a New Zealand driving licence under the name The Wizard.

Quick break in the story to say having a license that just says The Wizard is one of the most enviable things imaginable. 

He moved to Christchurch in the early 1970s and became a regular fixture in the city square, where he would speak while standing high on a ladder dressed in his long cloak and pointed hat. The police tried to arrest him, but this enraged the public, and instead the square was made into a designated public speaking area.

Whoa… And he's not even from New Zealand. He was born in London, moved to Australia, and then one day he just up & emigrated there. Then he started goofin' in the square, won public affection & made a living off being a tourist attraction/city good luck charm well into old age. 

That's the dream. It's like a very wholesome version of those knock-off Cookie Monsters in Times Square except he doesn't seem to be high all day & the paycheck means he's less likely to aggressively shame you into giving him $20 for a crappy photo with him.

Here he is back in '94:

And over the years the ladder got a little shorter:

But he still made all the key appearances, like New Years Day croquet:

And visiting with New Zealand PFT only a couple years ago, ha ha:

At one point he even had an apprentice, Ari Freeman (fascinating read about that HERE), but I'm not sure where that stands these days:

As for what's next

The Wizard said he would keep up his regular appearances at Christchurch’s Arts Centre, chatting to tourists and locals. The centre is hosting an exhibition of his life this month, which is supported by the council.

When asked if he would curse the council over its decision, he said he preferred to give blessings.

“I give children happy dreams, general good health, and I want to make bureaucrats become more human.”

I don't think Glinda, Dumbledore & Gandalf combined could accomplish that last part, but Godspeed, Wizard. Godspeed.