An 87-year-old man gets paid $10,400 a year by the city of Christchurch in New Zealand to act as their official wizard. Ian Brackenbury Channell established himself as The Wizard of Christchurch not long after emigrating to the country from the UK in the 1970s, eventually convincing the City Council in 1998 to hand over the cash.
- Ian used to be a sociology teacher. He taught in Australia at the University of New South Wales, but after he lost his position, he wanted to do something completely different. He talked to the school’s vice-chancellor and convinced him to agree to make Ian the university’s first official wizard, an idea he came up with “out of nowhere.”
- The former Prime Minister of New Zealand offered him a promotion. It was in the 1970s that Ian left Australia for New Zealand, and while it took nearly 20 years, in 1990, the Prime Minster of New Zealand at the time, Mike Moore, reached out to ask him to become Christchurch’s official wizard. “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,” Moore wrote, according to CNN.
- No, he doesn’t actually cast any spells. Instead, he describes himself as more of a “provocateur” who enjoys being a showman and acting the fool to make people smile. Apparently, it’s pretty good for tourism in Christchurch to have an official wizard roaming about!
- Sadly, being a wizard doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Not everyone got Ian’s obsession with being a wizard, and his dedication to his chosen profession cost him most of his friends as well as his wife. That sucks!
- Ian is getting old and he’s ready to pass on the baton. At 87, Ian is almost ready to retire. However, he’s been planning ahead here and has been training an apprentice, a 39-year-old guitar teacher named Ari Freeman, to take over for him when he’s done. “I want the wizard phenomenon to continue, and I will totally fulfill that role. Like a band needs a guitar player – I’ll be that guitar player,” Ari said of the illustrious position. “It takes someone to do something unusual to poke their head in to create a zeitgeist change, and those people are magicians.” Fair enough!