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Wizard of New Zealand

The Wizard of New Zealand, also known as the Arch Wizard of Canterbury, is well known in New Zealand as a public speaker, performer, and eccentric.

The Wizard (his legally recognised name) has also been recognised as a "living work of art" by the National Gallery of Victoria and the Robert MacDougall Art Gallery, and as "Cosmologer" of the University of Melbourne. He is also the founder of the Imperial British Conservative Party, and Alf's Imperial Army.

Born in 1932 in London as Ian Brackenbury Channell, he was appointed Wizard of the University of New South Wales by the Vice Chancellor and Students' Union in 1969.

The Wizard initially gained attention in New Zealand as a regular soap box orator in Cathedral Square in Christchurch, New Zealand. Dressed as a Wizard in a black gown, wizard's hat and staff and wearing a long flowing beard, his topics of oration were, for the most part, deliberately controversial and frequently whimsical. His maiden speech in Cathedral Square in Christchurch, New Zealand on September 17, 1974 was greeted with derision and eggs, later ones by objections from the City Council, but after many battles with bureaucracy he is now an institution and tourist attraction. Some allege that he even receives state money for bringing in tourist revenue.

One of his pet peeves is filling out census forms, which he has tried to escape by such means as travelling off-shore in a small boat or by "magically disappearing" at the time of the census. He also claims that the traditional world views are incorrect and "borealocentric", proposing the Upside-Down World, with Antarctica and South at the top of the map, and the Inside-Out Universe, which inverts all dimensions and measurements.

He occasionally came under heavy criticism from Barry Smith, the New Zealand eschatologist and born-again preacher. In particular, Smith blamed the Wizard for an infestation of insects in one area, after he had performed a Native American raindance in an aeroplane over said area.

On October 6, 1990 he was proclaimed 'Wizard of New Zealand' by the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mike Moore. He has also been known as 'The Wizard of Christchurch', 'Archwizard of Canterbury' (a similar 'title' to the Anglican position of Archbishop of Canterbury), or simply 'The Wizard'.

On September 8, 2003 the Wizard's large wooden house was destroyed by a fire. The Wizard, his partner and two boarders were lucky to escape with their lives, but the Wizard's extensive book and video collections were destroyed. The Wizardmobile, constructed in Timaru from the front halves of two VW Beetles, was also attacked, though later repaired.

Christchurch Wizard (Wizard of New Zealand)



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