The Magic is Gone: Official Wizard of New Zealand Loses Contract for Performing 'Acts of Wizardry'
While the Wizard originally performed his services for free, the Christchurch City Council signed a contract with him in 1998 – a contract that netted him some $368,000 in total.
Authorities in New Zealand moved to terminate a contract with Ian Brackenbury Channell, also known as the Wizard of New Zealand or simply the Wizard.
According to The Guardian, the Wizard had been paid a total of $368,000 – some $16,000 a year – since he had been contracted by the city council of Christchurch about two decades ago to promote the city through “acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services”.
Channell, who was born in England, reportedly started performing "acts of wizardry and entertainment" in public spaces soon after his arrival to New Zealand in 1976, and the public protested when the city council initially sought to stop him.
In 1982, the New Zealand Art Gallery Directors Association branded Channell a living work of art, and in 1990, then-Prime Minister of New Zealand Mike Moore moved to appoint him the Wizard of New Zealand.
While the Wizard initially performed his services for free, the Christchurch City Council signed a contract with him in 1998 – and now, it seems, that arrangement has come to an end.
Lynn McClelland, a spokesperson for the council, reportedly said that the decision in question was difficult, and that the Wizard would "forever be a part of [Christchurch’s] history".
She also announced that the city is embarking on new tourism and promotional direction that will "showcase a vibrant, diverse, modern city that is attractive to residents, domestic and international visitors, new businesses, and skilled migrant workers".
Meanwhile, the Wizard himself remarked that the council opted to remove him from their payroll because he did not fit “the vibes” of the city, the newspaper notes.
"It implies that I am boring and old, but there is nobody else anything like me in Christchurch," he said. "It’s just they don’t like me because they are boring old bureaucrats and everyone likes me and no one likes them.’"