Man Gets Paid $10,000 To Be Official Wizard Of Christchurch, New Zealand

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 10 Aug 2020 18:51
PA/Ari Freeman/Facebook

An 87-year-old man in New Zealand who gets paid $10,000 a year to be Christchurch’s official wizard is currently looking for his successor. 

British-born Ian Brackenbury Channell moved to the country in the 1970s, and soon established himself as The Wizard of Christchurch – no really, he’s known as ‘The Wizard’.

After always being seen boasting a wizard outfit, Ian became so well known he has his own TripAdvisor rating: an impressive 4/5 stars.


He even changed the name on his driving license to ‘The Wizard’, although hasn’t officially changed his name.

WizardWizardPA Images

Ian has even been paid $16,000 NZ ($10,400 US) every year since 1998 by the Christchurch City Council. Imagine trying to explain that one to the tax office.

Prior to his wizarding days, Ian was a sociology teacher in Australia at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). When he lost his university job, he hatched a plan with the vice chancellor to give him a new position – the university’s first official wizard. Ian says he invented a wizard ‘out of nowhere’.


While you’d expect his job to largely consist of casting spells and pretending to be in Lord of The Rings, Ian says he’s more of a ‘provocateur’ than anything, and a showman that doesn’t mind making a fool of himself.

WizardWizardAri Freeman/Facebook

After he left UNSW, he moved to the University of Melbourne before he took his profession to New Zealand in the 1970s. While Ian seems to love it, taking up the quirky career did see him lose all his friends and his wife.

Being a wizard may have proved unpopular with them, but in 1990 the Prime Minister of New Zealand reportedly wrote to Ian directly, asking him to become the country’s official wizard.


As per CNN, Mike Moore – Prime Minister at the time – wrote, ‘No doubt there will be implications in the area of spells, blessings, curses, and other supernatural matters that are beyond the competence of mere Prime Ministers.’


While Ian is evidently great at what he does, he is quickly approaching 90, and so has been spending less time in the spotlight. He also thinks he may have found his successor: 39-year-old guitar teacher Ari Freeman, who has apparently been his apprentice for past six years.

Speaking about becoming the next wizard, Ari said:


I want the wizard phenomenon to continue, and I will totally fulfill that role. Like a band needs a guitar player – I’ll be that guitar player.

It takes someone to do something unusual to poke their head in to create a zeigeist change, and those people are magicians.

Ari definitely has some big shoes – and a robe – to fill.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, Christchurch, New Zealand, Now, The Wizard of Christchurch, Wizard


  1. CNN

    This New Zealand man gets paid $10,000 a year to be a city's official wizard