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  • Kevin Caldwell

A New Zealand City Is Taking Its Official Wizard Off The Payroll After Over 2 Decades

Original Story here: Rachel Treism NPR

Christchurch, New Zealand, is parting ways with its official city wizard after more than two decades. His offensive remarks about women and the local government's new tourism strategy reportedly spelled his doom.

Ian Brackenbury Channell is known as The Wizard of New Zealand, apparently even on official documents like his passport. He's been on the Christchurch City Council's payroll since 1998, receiving an annual salary of $16,000 NZ (more than $11,000 in current USD) to "provide acts of wizardry and other wizard-like-services – as part of promotional work for the city of Christchurch," according to the New Zealand news site Stuff.

But that job title will soon become — like many wizards before him — a thing of legend.

"The council has met with The Wizard and sent him a letter thanking him for his services to Christchurch over the past decades, and informing him that we are bringing our formal contractual arrangement to a close," said Lynn McClelland, the council's assistant chief executive. She said the final payment will be made in December.

The decision was a difficult one, according to McClelland. She explained that Christchurch's promotional landscape is changing to "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."

That may not have been the only reason, The Guardian reports, citing controversial comments Channell made back in April.

"I love women, I forgive them all the time, I've never struck one yet. Never strike a woman because they bruise too easily is the first thing, and they'll tell the neighbors and their friends ... and then you're in big trouble," he said at a screening of the current affairs show New Zealand Today.

Channell told Stuff that the council had waved him off because he didn't fit with the city's modern image, calling them "a bunch of bureaucrats who have no imagination" and are "not thinking of ways to promote Christchurch overseas."

Despite his disappointment, Channell promised to keep visiting Christchurch's Arts Centre to chat with tourists and locals.

"It makes no difference. I will still keep going," he said. "They will have to kill me to stop me."

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