Christchurch, New Zealand fires its official city wizard

There are plenty of people who think they’re wizards. There are plenty of people who have played wizards in movies or on TV. But in New Zealand, there is only one official wizard. Or at least there was. Risking unleashing forces they cannot control, the city of Christchurch has just fired their official city wizard, Ian Brackenbury Channell, known properly as The Wizard of New Zealand.

Earlier this week, Stuff reported that Channell had been relieved of his duties, which involved providing acts of magic for Christchurch and presumably the nation at large. He was officially contracted to “provide acts of wizardry and other wizard-like-services – as part of promotional work for the city of Christchurch.”

The wizard, who has seemingly defended Christchurch successfully until now, had held the position since 1998, preceding even Gandalf’s arrival in the country. Unfortunately, it seems the muggles on the city council have decided that wizarding doesn’t quite fit their new outlook, making his $16,000-a-year salary expendable.

In a statement, the council said that it was looking to go in a new direction.

The promotional landscape in Ōtautahi Christchurch is changing, with new and different promotional programs that will increasingly reflect our diverse communities and showcase a vibrant, diverse, modern city that is attractive to residents, domestic and international visitors, new businesses, and skilled migrant workers.

For his part, Channell is outraged, saying that he doesn’t “like being canceled” and that the local Christchurch authorities are “a bunch of bureaucrats who have no imagination.” Instead of showing diversity, he counters, his sacking shows the complete opposite. There are, after all, very few wizards in the world.

They are not thinking of ways to promote Christchurch overseas. They are just projecting an image of bureaucrats drinking lattes on the boulevard. Their image of Christchurch is nothing to do with the authentic heritage of the city. I am the original image of Christchurch.

An angry wizard is undoubtedly something that should worry the Christchurch Council. With the forces of darkness surely making ready, the last thing the city needs is a Sauraman situation. “They will have to kill me to stop me,” Channell said, adding that the official title “makes no difference” to him anyway. “I would like to know what the reason is for it.” Perhaps divination isn’t his strong point.

However, despite the wizard’s insistence that he will “keep going,” Council assistant chief executive Lynn McClelland stresses that the contract with the man of magic is over. “The council has met with The Wizard and sent him a letter thanking him for his services to Christchurch over the past decades,” McClelland said, adding that the council had informed Channell that “we are bringing our formal contractual arrangement to a close.”

Whether the impending wizarding war in New Zealand will be one sided may depend on how well Channell invested his money. Over the 23 years he remained on the payroll, Christchurch Council had paid him a total of $368,000. That’s a lot of potions and enchantments.

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