If I say wizard, what place do you think of? Britain, sure. China, of course. Yes, yes, also most of Africa, the entirety of Eastern Europe, and a ... uh ... bunch of racist places in America. But somewhere down that list is New Zealand, home of both fantasy locales and fantasy movie sets.
And while it might not be famous for its magic, New Zealand is the only country in the world that has a wizard on the government payroll. Since 1998, Christchurch, New Zealand, has been employing an official court wizard, Ian Brackenbury Channell, and you know he's an official wizard because it says so on his driver's license. Now dressed in a black robe and a black pointy hat, this British ex-pat braved vast oceans and planes (the 16 hours in coach kind) in the 1970s to offer Christchurch his magical services, which involve him standing on a ladder and weaving the ancient arcane school of funomancy.
For his services, Christchurch's council has been paying Grandmaster Channell a stipend of roughly $10,000 a year for nearly three decades. Of course, only a conjurer of cheap tricks would sell theirs for common coin. Instead, the powerful kiwi conjurer is paid not for his magic but for his services as a comedian, educator, tourist attraction, and "living work of art." That Christchurch's Governor-General is 142 years old and has a floating house is just a coincidence.
But as Ian the All Black is getting very white of beard, rumors have started that the 87-year-old wizard is set to retire. This, despite his apprentice, psychedelic funk band frontman Ari Freeman, being only 39-years-old, which in wizarding years makes him such a novice he'll likely flood your basement with animated broomsticks. Fortunately, the wizard laureate has dispelled such rumors, claiming they have been "put out by my enemies, of which I have millions." After all, a wizard does not retire -- they either live forever or get dragged into the foul bowels of the earth by a chain whipping demon. We'll see which option Archmage Ian Brackenbury Channell chooses in the end.
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Top Image: New Line Cinema / New Zealand Government