Elesha Gordon tells us how a Baptist woman’s prophetic painting made waves at Waitangi Day commemorations this year and why it was taken on a tour around New Zealand.

Carolyn Anderson-Shanly’s painting, entitled Wairua Tapu, played a role at Waitangi Day commemorations this year. Inspired by a vision, the painting depicts God’s heart for unity in Aotearoa.

It was at an evening service at Hills Church, also known as Hillsborough Baptist Church, when the lyrics of Edge Kingsland’s song Wairua Tapu (Holy Spirit Welcome) resonated strongly with Carolyn and her husband Edward. They printed off the lyrics and put them up on their kitchen wall. But it was not until 7th March 2018 that God spoke to Carolyn about the meaning behind the song. 

“I felt him say to me, ‘Now is the time the Holy Spirit is coming to Aotearoa in an unprecedented way and will cover the land,’” says Carolyn.

A prophetic painting

Carolyn has been a painter for more than 30 years but this was the first time she felt moved to paint a prophetic artwork. 

She went to work on the piece, which depicts two hands coming together with Māori and New Zealand flags on either side. Above it is the image of the Holy Spirit pouring down and covering the land. As she was painting, Carolyn felt God tell her to paint the words of the Edge Kingsland song around the sides. It was when she had finished the piece that God told her it was his heart for the nation.

“It would be a prophecy visible in paint for all to see,” she says.

Carolyn had another vision, this time of a pōwhiri. It was this vision that began unfolding more than a year later. 

“We sat this painting at his feet as an act of faith and worship,” says Carolyn, describing the vision. “I saw Māori and Pākehā walking together in unity in a pōwhiri and I was sobered by such an overwhelming sense of humility and holiness.”

A week after completing the piece, Carolyn was unsure what to do next with it. She was reminded of two Māori women she had met at the School of Prophets Aotearoa in Taupō. She managed to track down their ministry and emailed them a photo of the painting, asking to know if it resonated or not.

Stephanie Harawira replied to Carolyn’s email. Stephanie is the national director of Pacific Pearls, a multicultural group of prophetic women. Carolyn says Stephanie responded that she was amazed at how the painting aligned with what the Holy Spirit had been speaking to her and her people. 

“Her heart also is to see our nation healed and to see Māori arise in unity, free in Christ and free to be Māori,” says Carolyn. “The more contact I had with her and her ministry, the more the Lord gave me his heart of love for Māori.”

Waitangi and Hikoi Aotearoa

After more than 25 years of attending Waitangi, Stephanie advised Carolyn there was a place for the prophetic painting at the 2019 Waitangi Day commemorations. 

At the same time, the Pacific Pearls team was called to a hikoi that took place after Waitangi celebrations and journeyed from Cape Rēinga through the country to Bluff, and ending in the Chatham Islands at the close of April. This unprecedented hikoi—named Hikoi Aotearoa—involved more than 20 revivalists from around the country and visited 40 marae over 12 weeks. 

Hikoi Aotearoa was invited to Waitangi 2019 commemorations and Carolyn helped lead the pōwhiri with her painting. The large canvas piece was carried in by four men, including politician Alfred Ngaro and Stephanie’s husband, Tai Harawira. It was then placed at the front of the stage. 

At that moment, Carolyn witnessed the vision that she experienced a year before in her West Auckland kitchen unfolding in front of her. 

“It was humbling and holy,” she said. “Even unbelievers recognised the powerful message of unity it holds.”

But that was only the beginning of what God had planned. Edward and Carolyn joined Hikoi Aotearoa as Pākehā treaty partners and embarked on the 12-week journey through the country. At each marae they stayed at, the painting was symbolically brought in and displayed. 

“As significant as taking the painting to Waitangi 2019 was, it was just the beginning,” Carolyn says. “God’s heart for our beautiful nation is prophesied in paint for all to see, and depicts his will for unity.”

Story: Elesha Gordon

Elesha is a journalist from Auckland. She calls Hills Church (Hillsborough Baptist Church) home and leads a group of young adults with her husband Daniel.