Magic in the Air in Ponsonby

Ponsonby News columnist and long-time Grey Lynn resident David Hartnell MNZM has just been named Patron of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians.

He’s had a lifelong interest in magic and as a child performed his own magic tricks at school. At the age of 15 David had to choose between the wand and his roller skates. His passion for roller skating eventually won out and David became a New Zealand champion roller skater. He went on to become Australasia's first male makeup artist and ultimately a celebrity journalist and gossip columnist. He was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2011 for his services to entertainment.

Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians President Alan Watson QSM said, “We are delighted to have David as our Patron. His longevity in the entertainment world, along with his love for our art form is unsurpassed.”

David said, “These are the people who are keeping magic alive in our community and who are mystifying people. So I’m extremely proud to be the Patron of this group. I love magicians because it's such a unique form of entertainment, nothing is quite like it. You know you will be fooled but you still walk away from it feeling amazed.

“I really like the way American magician and skeptic James Randi sums up magic: 'Some people cannot believe that a magician can fool them in such a way that they can’t figure it out. But magicians can and magicians do. Swindlers do and conmen do all the time, but they're not magicians - they're fakes. They’re lying to us, they're deceiving us. It’s all right to fool people as long as you’re doing it to teach them a lesson, which will better their knowledge of how the real world works'.

"No matter how smart or well educated you are, you can be deceived.”

The Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians, which has a focus on membership from working professional magicians, has a long local history. Their inaugural meeting was at a house on 141 Great North Road in 1945 (now the site of Midas Car Repairs). These days the members regularly meet at The Surrey Hotel in Grey Lynn. The club provides an opportunity for magicians to socialise, network and share their magic. They also produce the annual Magic Moments Family Comedy Magic Show and charity shows to fundraise for the community.

Throughout his colourful and intriguing career as a gossip columnist, David has met and interviewed some of the world’s most famous magicians. “I interviewed Hollywood legend Cary Grant once, and he also had a love for magic. After our interview, we chatted about our passion.

"Looking back, I kick myself as I should have made our mutual interest part of the interview. It’s one of my greatest regrets.”

David also visited the home of Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas. He describes them as 'show ponies' and says yes, they did have tigers freely roaming around their property. David is also the Patron of the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand, these two patron roles he takes very seriously.

The previous Patron of the magic club was international star of magic Paul Daniels from the United Kingdom, who died in March this year aged 77 from an incurable brain tumour.