Exorcisms and spiritual deliverance are on the rise in New Zealand, even among those who aren't Christian, some deliverance ministers say.

Auckland woman Josephine Martin, who runs a monthly prayer room at Church Unlimited, has been "operating in the area of deliverance" for 26 years, and says the number of people stepping up to say they need to be delivered is growing.

Exorcism or deliverance is the act of using prayer to expel a demonic presence from a person or place.

Some may conjure up mental images of people climbing walls, levitating, or speaking in different voices, and Martin says the real deal can be just like that.


"I've seen people bounce up walls, levitate, I've seen them wriggle around, make animal sounds. I have heard men's voices come out of old ladies. You'd be surprised, the littlest prayer meeting might bring forth the greatest manifestation," she said.

Martin prays for "hundreds" of people each year, but says only 50 per cent of those people have issues they may need deliverance for.

But the number of people contacting her for prayer of some type has risen about 80 per cent in the last few years, she said.

Part of the increase of people needing deliverance could be put down to people becoming more open to a spiritual "realm", and the other part could be how "rapidly" the world is changing, providing "openings" to demonic activity.

Those openings could include addictions such as pornography, drugs, and alcohol.

"Definitely in my outworking of deliverance I have found them to be huge openings, and that's from the recipient of prayer and deliverance themselves . . . they generally make that known themselves."

Exorcism had a bad rap, but Martin felt that could be attributed partly to stories of people using physical force and hurting the person needing help.

Kiwi Janet Moses died in 2007 at an apparent cleansing ceremony in Wainuiomata, where her family restrained her and poured water into her eyes and tried to make her throw up in order to exorcise her. Family members were convicted of her manslaughter in 2009.


Martin said there was no scriptural basis for using force on someone who is being delivered.

"You would never use anything to restrain somebody. That, quite often, is probably where people do get caught up, with incorrect Hollywood illustration. There is no need when you operate in power and authority.

"I know the power and authority that I operate in and that's in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Meanwhile Connect Baptist Church elder Bruce Rea said he hasn't seen an increase of people coming to him for deliverance, but more non-Christians were looking into spiritual help.

"For a long time it's been underground, one of those things that was never talked about, never discussed."

He said it would be conservative to say he delivers at least 100 people per year, but that included overseas work.

"There's no increase in activity going on, just probably a growing openness to people sticking their hands up and saying 'I've got a problem'," he said.

He said 20-30 per cent of people he prayed for were non-Christians, and that number had risen slightly since 10-20 years ago.

Deliverance was not just about full-blown demonic possession as seen in the movies, he said.

"Sometimes it's people just presenting themselves that they've got an issue and it's just a matter of praying a simple prayer of cutting it off, releasing them from that."

More often it was a case of someone having a type of demonic presence attached to them.

He would only deal with a possessed person two or three times each year.