Pastor Rodney Malbunka was recently ordained at Hermannsburg. Alice Springs historian, Josie Petrick, has known his family ever since Rodney’s father, evangelist Colin Malbunka, moved to Neutral Junction Station in 1962 where she ran the health centre and her late husband, Martyn, was the station manager. This is her story about Rodney and his family.
When Pastor Paul Albrecht told us that an Arrarnta speaking evangelist was coming to live there we wondered how he would fit in; the people of our Aboriginal camp, known as Tara, spoke Kaiditj However, we had no need for concern as Colin and his family were readily accepted. A house was soon built for them, Martyn even managed for a church and meeting hall to be constructed.
Colin had a gift for singing and for teaching. Every evening, Martyn and I would sit in the garden under the starry sky, listening to Colin and the Tara people singing. He soon learnt the local Kaiditj, and also the Alyawarra language. Colin used images and stories from Aboriginal culture to convey the Christian message to his small congregations, as he travelled around the neighbouring camps. In the mid 1960’s I often saw young Rodney when his mother Joyce would bring him to the health centre. He was a happy, friendly child. All of Joyce and Colin’s children were a delight.
After Colin was ordained in 1971, his brothers wanted him to return to his own country, Gilbert Springs, near Hermannsburg. So, Colin became pastor to people living in ‘outstations’ West of the mission. Joyce was sad when she told me the family would be leaving Tara. Sadly, Pastor Colin died at Hermannsburg in 1977. Since then Rodney married Faye Ratara and they have three children. The FRM Store Manager at Hermannsburg, Selwyn Kloeden, said that Rodney, as head baker, was a great example to the Hermannsburg community, ‘He’s always first at the bakery in the morning, and runs it well.’
Rodney’s parents would be very proud of all their children and particularly of Rodney who has followed in his father’s footsteps and become a Lutheran pastor.