Had a wizard time

August 30, 2002

New Zealand's official wizard - a former sociology lecturer at the University of New South Wales - is retiring as he approaches his 70th birthday.

Ian Brackenbury Channell was made wizard of Christchurch in 1980 and was appointed New Zealand's first wizard a decade later by then prime minister Mike Moore.

He performs rain dances and expounds radical theories on cosmological and other matters to locals and tourists while sporting a beard, black gown and pointy hat and carrying a crooked wooden staff.

He said: "I think it's a wonderful job. It's not like it's an athletic job. I do the odd rain dance, but that's about it."

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