For other uses, see Dannevirke (disambiguation).
Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua (Māori)

Location in North Island, New Zealand

Coordinates: 40°12′22″S 176°05′58″E / 40.20611°S 176.09944°E / -40.20611; 176.09944Coordinates: 40°12′22″S 176°05′58″E / 40.20611°S 176.09944°E / -40.20611; 176.09944
Country New Zealand
Region Manawatu-Wanganui
Territorial authority Tararua District
Population (June 2016)[1]
  Total 5,260
Postcode(s) 4930

Dannevirke (Danish: "Danish creation" or "Danes' work" and a reference to Danevirke), is a rural service town in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region of the North Island, New Zealand. It is the major town of the administrative Tararua District, the easternmost of the districts in which the Regional Council has responsibilities. The surrounding area has developed into dairy, beef cattle and sheep farming, which now provides the major income for the town's population of 6,000.


Before European settlers arrived in the 1870s, the line of descent for Maori in the area was from the Takitimu / Kurahaupo waka. The tribe of the area is the Ngati Kahungunu / Rangitane, with geographic distinction to Te Rangiwhakaewa in the immediate Dannevirke region. The first known 'Aotea' meeting house was established approximately 15 generations ago (from 2010) followed by the building of a marae at Makirikiri near Dannevirke at about the same time as the first Nordic settlers arrived from Napier and Hawkes Bay.

The town was founded on 15 October 1872 by Danish, Norwegian and Swedish settlers, adherents of Scandinavism, who arrived at the port of Napier and moved inland. The settlers, who arrived under the Public Works Act, built their initial settlement in a clearing of the Seventy Mile Bush.[2]

The Dannevirke after which the town was named is an extensive Viking age fortification line in Denmark which had a strong emotive symbolic role for 19th-century Danes, especially after the site had fallen into German hands in the German-Danish War of 1864 - a recent and very painful event for these settlers.

The settlement quickly earned the nickname of "sleeper town", as the town's purpose was to provide totara sleepers for the Napier - Wellington railway line. At one stage the area had 50 operating sawmills. After the native bush was cleared, the land was turned into pasture for grazing animals.

On 27 October 1917 much of the towns business district was destroyed by fire. The fire had started in the Andrew's Hotel on the corner of High and Station Streets at about 2pm. Flames blew across the road engulfing the Dannevirke Co-operative Association's store. As the fire spread through adjoining shops another hotel, the Masonic was engulfed. By about 5pm the Dannevirke and Woodville Fire Brigades, along with assistance from the local community had brought the fires under control. In total 27 business premises and 2 hotels were destroyed with damage estimated at ₤200,000.[3]

Totara College hosts the Dannevirke Garden and Craft Expo, an annual event that has grown to a considerable size.

The Australian politician and former Premier of Queensland Joh Bjelke-Petersen was born in Dannevirke


Dannevirke has produced a number of sports men and women in a number of different disciplines, among them rugby player John Timu, who made New Zealand teams in both union and league. Ewen Chatfield, who was an important member of the successful New Zealand cricket team of the 1980s Hadlee-Coney-Crowe era, is from Dannevirke, as is former All Black Duncan Hales, who now resides in the United States.

Other Dannevirke All Blacks were Colin Loader (1950s), Blair Furlong (1970 to South Africa), Lui Paewai who is widely acknowledged as the youngest All Black in history at just 17 years old (1924 Invincibles) and whose brother, nephews and grand-nephews(Doc, Hepa, Nathan and Murdoch respectively) went on to have good careers for Hawkes Bay and the New Zealand Maori side, and Roy White (post-war All Black in 1947-48.) Other All Blacks who spent time in Dannevirke included 1981 All Black tourist to Romania and France Wayne Neville, who attended Dannevirke High School, and John Ashworth, who moved from Canterbury to a farm near Dannevirke late in his career.

The Dannevirke Sports Club and Aotea Sports Club are the major outlets for sport in the town with netball, cricket and soccer teams as well as a rugby team that compete in the Premier Manawatu Senior Competition and the Hawke's Bay 1st Division.


Dannevirke has an Oceanic climate, (Köppen:Cfb).[4] Despite its high altitude the summer temperatures are often cooler compared to other Eastern North Island towns, such as Masterton, Napier and Gisborne, while in winter Dannevirke can regularly experience frosts as in other parts of New Zealand. Snow is rare, the latest snow to hit Dannevirke was 15 August 2011 [5]

Climate data for Dannevirke, New Zealand
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 22.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.3
Average low °C (°F) 12.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 69.5
Source: climate-charts.com[6]

Notable residents

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dannevirke, New Zealand.


  1. "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2016 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-16 (2017 boundary)". Statistics New Zealand. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  2. "Kingdom of Denmark Bilateral Relations". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 2009-12-07. There is a small Danish community in this country, descended from a group of early settlers who came out to clear thick North Island bush in the middle years of last century and stayed on to found settlements like Dannevirke and Norsewood. In fact, a former Prime Minister and high-ranking churchman from Denmark, Bishop Ditlev Gothard Monrad, established a community in Longburn, Manawatu and set up the first dairy plant in the region. He returned to Denmark after three years, but members of his family stayed behind, as well as a substantial art collection now held by Te Papa.
  3. Disastrous fire at Dannevirke, Dominion, Volume 11, Issue 24, 23 October 1917, page 6.
  4. Zealand/Dannevirke, New Zealand
  5. "Dannevirke, New Zealand". climate-charts.org. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  6. "1st Lt Victor F. Bleasdale USMC". Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  7. "McCauley, Sue". New Zealand Book Council. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  8. Easton, Brian (7 July 2008). "From Ordinary Beginnings to Extraordinary Achievements". Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  9. Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. p. 339. ISBN 0-474-00177-6.
  10. McGibbon, Ian. "Hans Madsen Ries - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
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