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Manawatu Guardian - 2021-07-22

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After Dark extravaganza returns to warm up winter

STEPPING OUT

It’s the middle of winter, which means the biggest evening event on the Te Manawa calendar is here. On Friday, After Dark throws open the museum’s doors and welcomes the public into a brightly lit space filled with activities, diversions and demonstrations. Returning this year is Dr Rafea Naffa and his chemistry extravaganza. In the past his shows have included such wonders as brightly coloured flames, frozen marshmallows and fountains of the famous “elephant’s toothpaste”. He will perform two shows on the night — what will he bring this time around? Naffa appears with the assistance of Fonterra. Also in the courtyard will be some of Palmy’s food trucks — visitors can grab a bit of nosh for the wha¯ nau while they wait for the science shows to start. Inside the museum, the Curious Contraptions exhibition will be open for exploration. It’s filled with lovingly crafted gizmos from Britain that all go with the push of a button or the turn of a handle. They contrast with the distinctly Kiwi machines of Southland inventor Blair Somerville, whose upcycled, No 8 wire style will be instantly familiar. Normally entry to Curious Contraptions is by donation, but for After Dark it’s free. There’s plenty to do in between the big attractions. Visitors can learn how to fold a Matariki star at the crafting station, or go on a mystery word hunt throughout the museum to find the secret messages in invisible ink, using special ultraviolet torches. The giant slide in the atrium has been reported to be better than any bouncy castle. Year after year, After Dark has been a fun and varied night out for the whole wha¯nau, and 2021 will be no different.

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