World of the Bizarre
New Zealand's official 'wizard' is laid off after 23 years
By T.K. Randall
October 18, 2021 · 8 comments
Brackenbury was a common sight in Christchurch. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Jerryhattric
The Gandalfesque magician had spent more than two decades on the official payroll.
The traditional concept of a wizard - that of a bearded man dressed in a robe and carrying a staff - might seem like something relegated solely to the realm of fantasy fiction.
In New Zealand, however, wizards are actually the real deal... well, sort of.
Meet Ian Brackenbury - a UK-born wizard who, since 1998, has been paid $16,000 NZD a year to play the role of New Zealand's official 'city wizard' (and yes he does have a beard, a robe and a staff.)
A resident of Christchurch, Brackenbury was hired to promote the city through "acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services" and has been seen performing his wizarding arts there ever since.
His appointment to the role happened thanks to an unusual set of circumstances.
During the 70s and 80s, he had frequently performed as a wizard in public spaces until the council took exception to him and asked him to stop. Following a public outcry, however, the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time decided to offer him the role of the country's official wizard so that his services could benefit everyone across the entire nation.
Now though, 23 years on, it looks as though his official wizarding days are over.
According to a Christchurch council spokesman, the reason for sacking Brackenbury was that wizards simply weren't 'cool' any more (we beg to differ!) and that he didn't fit in with the city's modern image.
Not all is lost, though, as the resident magicman intends to continue making appearances, even if he is no longer doing so in an official capacity.
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