Six weeks' silence for the Wizard

By James Ihaka

The past six weeks have been pretty tough for self-confessed oddball Ian Brackenbury Channell - aka the Wizard of New Zealand.

After learning he was to be awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to the community, the man famous for his theories on postmodern cosmology was told to shut up.

"While I was obviously quite speechless, I had to keep quiet about it, which was pretty hard because it was just such a surprise for someone of my type to get an award," he said.

"I think most people will be pleased to see the Wizard get a title like this but the rest of the world will be probably be thinking, 'It's a strange place New Zealand - what are they up to there giving a wizard a QSM?"'

Since arriving in Christchurch in 1974 and falling in love with the place, the Wizard has been a mainstay on the Cathedral Square tiles. It is there that he has espoused his philosophies on the meaning of life in what he calls "the longest-running show in New Zealand".

Formerly the Wizard of Christchurch, he was ordained the Wizard of New Zealand in 1990 by his good friend Mike Moore, who was Prime Minister at the time.

The proclamation from Parliament stated that he must protect the Government, wear appropriate regalia, bless new enterprises, cast out evil spirits, upset fanatics, cheer up fanatics and attract tourists.

The Wizard, who has not completed a census form in more than 40 years and does not have an IRD number, has also lent his services to drought-stricken communities with his rain dances.

He takes considerable pride in one performance in the Australian outback in 2003.

"In each case there was a drought lasting a long time, then the rain dance was performed and within three days a terrific downpour took place and everyone was stunned.

"It was the most absurd situation but it was most fun to do that in the scientific world while others were praying ... I do think the Aborigines were most impressed, however."

But the Wizard admits his normally potent spells haven't always had success.

There was a stint in the 1980s with the then dominant Canterbury rugby team which ended in disaster.

"They hadn't lost a game for a couple of years and then they were thrashed by Auckland - it was a disaster. I resigned and said I'd never do another spell again.

"These days, with the Crusaders, they have the horses galloping around the arena. It seems to work for them."

- NZ Herald

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