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Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 18:18 GMT 19:18 UK
NZ wizard seeks charms of normal life
Wizard of Christchurch and New Zealand
This wizard has more than 30 years' experience
New Zealand's weirdest government appointee is hanging up his pointy hat and retiring.


It's not like it's an athletic job. I do the odd rain dance, but that's about it.

Ian Brackenbury Channell
The country's official wizard, Ian Brackenbury Channell, who has been deemed a "living work of art", is going back to life as a normal person after taking up his office in Christchurch in the late 1970s.

Announcing his search for a successor, the wizard sings the praises of his job - one of which is its special tax-free status.

"I think it's a wonderful job. It's not commercial. You are not left-wing or right-wing. It's not like it's an athletic job.

"I do the odd rain dance, but that's about it."

Candidates are required to be good speakers, believers in the "fun revolution", and have a good grasp of wizard cosmology.

Born in London, Mr Channell took degrees in Sociology and Psychology at Leeds University before moving to Australia.

There he taught sociology at the University of New South Wales before first being appointed a wizard in the late 1960s.

'Too radical'

He became Wizard of Christchurch in 1980, and a decade later was officially appointed New Zealand's first wizard by Mike Moore, prime minister at the time.

Wizard literature
The wizard is well known for his upside-down map of the world
He is best known for his rain dances and upside down map, which puts New Zealand at the top of the world.

But the wizard's anti-establishment, intellectually imaginative views extend beyond cosmology.

"I'm too radical for any government grant as a tourist attraction," the wizard said.

"The tourist industry doesn't promote me anyway. I am too hard a concept for simple-minded tourists.

'Post-feminist'

"It is hard to get along with the bureaucrats. I get on quite well with the politicians, though."

But even wizards must eat. This one has long been supported by his Australian fiancée, Alice Flett.

Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe
Get in line, Harry
"It fits with my post-feminist views - she supports me. I am rather like a kept woman in that respect. I'm very lucky."

Once a suitable successor has been found, Mr Channell says he may consider moving to Australia with Ms Flett.

But until one is, his wispy beard, crooked staff and fiery pronouncements will continue to amaze Christchurch's thrill-seeking visitors.

See also:

17 Jun 02 | Entertainment
27 Mar 02 | Entertainment
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