Historic Christchurch city magician fired by city council

After more than thirty years of service, Christchurch (New Zealand) magician Ian Brackenbury Chanel was forced to step down by the city council. At the age of 88, he was a city figure with his black dress, long beard, tangled hair and pointed cap on his head.

This magician was involved in all the fights, kicking off policies or leading a fight to prevent “the spirit of the city from being attacked” when the red phone booths were to be painted blue. He was called upon to cast spells to influence the results of major rugby matches or to perform the rain dance in Australia.

Promoting a more dynamic and modern city

Christchurch City Council deputy Lynn McClelland said: “Ending this contract is a difficult decision.” “The Council is grateful to him for his valuable and special contribution to the cultural life of our city, and he will forever be a part of our history.”

The deputy explained that the magic no longer matches the image the city wants to promote. The new programs “will increasingly reflect our diverse communities and showcase a vibrant, diverse and modern city,” said Lynn McClelland.

“The Incredible Bureaucrat”

UK-born Ian Brackenbury Chanel is a former Royal Air Force aviator and graduate from the University of Leeds with a double major in psychology and sociology. He reached Christchurch in 1974. When he began speaking publicly, the city council demanded his arrest.

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But he eventually became so popular that ten years later, when he threatened to leave after a spell failed, the city council asked him to stay. In 1990, Prime Minister Mike Moore officially named him “The Wizard of New Zealand”. Since 1998, magicians have been paid NZ$16,000 per year to perform their duties as a magician.

He did not hide his anger after the city council’s decision. “It’s a bunch of bureaucrats with no imagination,” he said. “They don’t think of ways to promote Christchurch overseas. They don’t take advantage of my global awareness.”

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About the Author: Piers Parker

Alcohol maven. Incurable pop culture specialist. Communicator. Gamer. Certified explorer.

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