A city in New Zealand has cast its official wizard from the public payroll following 23 years of service after joking about hitting women.
London-born Ian Brackenbury Channell, 88, was paid NZ$16,000 (£8,200) each year to perform ‘acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services’ to promote Christchurch under a contract inked in 1998.
The city said it ended Channell’s contract because it wanted to go in a more modern and diverse direction.
But the wizard himself claimed to local media that he was being ‘cancelled’ because he no longer fitted ‘the vibes’ of the city, describing himself as a ‘provocateur’.
‘They are a bunch of bureaucrats who have no imagination,” he told news website, Stuff.
In April, Channell told a comedy current affairs show that he would ‘never strike a woman because they bruise too easily’ – a remark which drew considerable criticism.
British-born Ian Brackenbury Channell, 88, was paid NZ$16,000 (£8,200) each year to ‘acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services’ to promote Christchurch [File photo]
The city said it ended Channell’s contract because it wanted to go in a more modern and diverse direction. But the wizard claimed he was being ‘cancelled’ because he no longer fitted ‘the vibes’ of the city. Pictured: Channell speaks to locals before a memorial at the Botanic Gardens following the twin mosque shooting in Christchurch in 2019
‘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,’ he said.
Earlier in the show, Channell has said he enjoyed teasing women by telling them they were devious, and said ‘they use cunning to get men who are thick’.
A council spokesperson told The Guardian that Channell had been sent a letter thanking him for his service and informing that his contract was terminated.
Lynn McClelland said Channell would ‘forever be a part of [Christchurch’s] history’.
Despite his termination of employment, the wizard told Stuff he will continue carrying out his duties.
‘I will still keep going. They will have to kill me to stop me,’ he said.
Channell, often dressed in a long cloak and pointy hat, has become a Christchurch tourist attraction and was even on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2009 [File photo]
‘There is nobody else anything like me in Christchurch.
‘It’s just they [the council] don’t like me because they are boring old bureaucrats and everyone likes me and no one likes them,’ he said.
Channell began performing acts of magic as entertainment in public spaces in Christchurch after arriving in New Zealand in 1976.
When police tried to arrest him, a public protest led to a local square being designated a public speaking area.
Since then, Channell, often dressed in a long cloak and pointy hat, has become a Christchurch tourist attraction and was even on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2009.
In 1982 he was declared a living work of art by the New Zealand Art Gallery Directors Association, and that same year became the city’s official wizard in 1982.
Under a unique tax-free status, he has been paid some $368,000 from the state since then. He is believed to have been the world’s only state-appointed wizard.
Prior to moving to New Zealand, Channell studied sociology and psychology at Leeds University.
He then moved to Australia to teach sociology at the University of New South Wales.
In 1990, then-New Zealand Prime Minister Mike Moore, asked Channell to ‘urgently consider’ becoming the country’s official Wizard.
‘I am concerned that your wizardry is not at the disposal of the entire nation,’ Moore wrote in a letter.
‘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.’