State magician dismissed: Charmed in Christchurch


Status: 25.10.2021 11:41 a.m.

Ian Brackenbury Channell performed magic in Christchurch, New Zealand for 23 years. He was a state magician – the only one in the world. Now he has lost his job because he made inappropriate comments about women.

By Lena Bodewein, ARD-Studio Singapore

Catweazel’s brother or Dumbledore’s cousin, Gandalf’s best friend? With wide open blue eyes and a tall pointed hat, with a wild beard and a knotty rootstock, this is how the wizard of Christchurch stands in the square in the middle of the city, entangling strangers in discussions about cosmology and aesthetics, inviting them into his existential universe – but wait a minute : The Wizard of Christchurch?

Lena Bodewein
ARD-Studio Singapore

“The position of the magician is unique, there is no other city in the world that has an official magician – and I also teach cosmology, philosophy and aesthetics”, sagt Ian Brackenbury Channell, fan of the Fun Revolution and the Official Wizard of Christchurch for 23 years.

Polish up the image of the city with magicians

It serves the soul of the city, says the 88-year-old, and is aimed at everyone who is still curious after they have been “crushed by mass education and the mass media,” he says. The idea of ​​an urban wizard came about after a gallery in Christchurch hired him as a living work of art. The local council wanted to make the image of the place on New Zealand’s South Island a little more magical, so they hired him.

Rather miserable salary?

“The arrangement amounted to 16,000 New Zealand dollars annually, so rather pitifully, a consumption allowance”, says the magician now little charmed, almost 10,000 euros a year. To do this, for example, he performed rain dances in dry seasons. Or waged war with New Zealand Telecom: When they changed the color of their phone booths, the magician kept making the new blue cells red. However, painted by hand at night.

He turned up by accident

You can’t make an appointment with him, chance – or magic – lets you meet him, he shows up when he wants. Genius and madness are close together when he reports on his “adventures in ideological land”, the title of one of his books. He sees himself as a therapist of the community who makes fun of opponents with wit and skill.

Inappropriate statement on talk show

But what he is said to have said recently on a talk show was not very funny and not even magical. He loves women and always forgives them, he has never hit a woman – they bruise so easily and talk about it with their neighbors and friends, and then you would have nothing but trouble. Lazy spell and absolutely inappropriate even as a joke. The city council ended the financial arrangement with the magician – the city’s advertising in the future would rather reflect the modern, diverse image, according to the official justification.

The magician wants to go on

They think they no longer need a magician promoting the city – they have to know that for themselves, but we will tell people that too. Because we always enjoyed entertaining the tourists and bringing some fun into town.

Magic never ends, the wizard wants to go on, he says. You’d have to kill him to stop him. The Guardian newspaper asked him: Will he curse the councilor who fired him?

“No, I prefer to bring happy dreams to children, good health to everyone – and I want to make bureaucrats more human.”

New Zealand city throws out its magician

Lena Bodewein, ARD Singapore, October 25, 2021 10:22 am


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