New Zealand is losing its official charm, and a crooked 88-year-old with a long white beard and pointed hat has become a popular tourist attraction in Christchurch (East).
This city council announced that it was laying off the services of this eccentric character who, since 1998, had paid him more than $11,000 a year for “contributing witchcraft and other witchcraft services” to the community.
For more than three decades, the 88-year-old, better known as Ian Brackenbury Chanel, has been walking the streets of this city with his beard, shaggy hair, long black cloak and pointed hat.
He used to address crowds with the most varied functions: punish politicians, halt a project to repaint the city’s red phone booths blue, or cast spells to color a rugby match.
Magic no longer fits the ‘promotional scene’
“It’s a tough decision to end the contract,” said City Council Executive Vice President Lynne McClelland.
But the magic no longer fits into the “promotional landscape” of New Zealand’s largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, with new programs that will “reflect diverse communities and show a vibrant, diverse and modern city”.
“They are a bunch of unimaginative bureaucrats,” the magician told the Stuff news site.
This British-born man, a former member of his country’s Air Force, arrived in Christchurch in 1974 and began giving his bizarre public speeches.
The authorities’ first reaction was to arrest him, but his popularity grew so great that when he threatened to leave after ten years, the council tempted him to stay and declared him the “Witch of Christchurch”.
In 1990, Prime Minister Mike Moore officially called it the “Warlock of New Zealand”.
FEW (AFP, Watchman)
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