# 41677

MALBUNKA [MALBANGKA], Maxina [and] ELATJIA, Milton

A drawing and two letters written in Western Arrernte by children from the Finke River Mission at Hermannsburg, 1942-44.

I. Maxina Malbunka (Malbangka). Letter in Western Arrernte. Manuscript in ink on recto of quarto sheet of ruled paper (240 x 195 mm); dated at Hermannsburg via Alice Springs, 11 July 1942; addressed to ‘My friend Gordon’ and signed at the foot ‘Maxina’; written double-spaced, with a typed English translation on the intervening lines; original folds, in excellent condition.

II. Milton Elatjia. Letter in Western Arrernte. Manuscript in ink on recto of quarto sheet of ruled paper (245 x 195 mm); dated at Hermannsburg, 18 February 1944; addressed to ‘My friend [Gordon]’ and signed at the foot ‘Milton’; written double-spaced, with an English translation in pencil on the intervening lines, also in Milton’s hand; original folds, in excellent condition.

III. Milton Elatjia. Handmade greeting card with colour-pencil drawing of dogs hunting kangaroos; executed on the front panel of a card bifolium neatly tied along the fold with green wool, 75 x 100 mm; verso signed Milton, and inscribed in an adult hand ‘Native School, Hermannsburg, C. Aust’; excellent condition. Note: this card originally accompanied Milton’s letter (II.)

These precious relics of the Hermannsburg Mission school were sent by two Hermannsburg children to a young boy from a Lutheran family in Kyneton, Victoria, Gordon John Gerhardy (1933-2023), as part of a pen-pal exchange. Later in life Gerhardy would himself serve as Lutheran missionary in Papua New Guinea.

Maxina was born at Hermannsburg on 24 July 1931, the first child of Alwin Malbunka (Malbangka) and his wife Franziska. In a letter written to T.G.H. Strehlow from Haasts Bluff, 10 February 1958, Pastor Albrecht mentions that Maxina’s father Alwin had collaborated with him on a translation of the Book of Amos.

Milton was born at Hermannsburg on 17 February 1932, the oldest child of Manasse Elatjia (aka Armstrong) (ca.1905-1979) and his wife Eva. Much later, in the early 1960s, Milton’s father Manasse would become one of the first group of Hermannsburg potters.

Both Maxina and Milton, like so many mission children, were forced to learn to navigate two worlds. Both children were taught to write fluently in their own language, Western Arrernte (Aranda). Milton provides his own English translation of his letter, whereas it is not clear whether the typed translation of Maxina’s letter was added by herself or one of the mission school teachers. Maxina writes, in part: ‘laka Thursdanga nuna kutata walkabout lama…. [On Thursday afternoons we always go walkabout…. we come together at Abel’s house to have some singing. Then we go to sleep in the girls’ house]’. Milton writes that he is well, and back at school again; he has been riding donkeys with his friends; he went to see the ‘big water Finke’, and went hunting rabbits.

Provenance: Pastor Gordon Gerhardy (1933-2023)