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"Danes' work"

Dannevirke (Danish: "Danish creation" )  It is the major town of the administrative district of Tararua,  The surrounding area has developed into dairy and sheep farming, which now provides the major  income for the town's population of 6,000.  

In 1870 a move was made by the Government of the day to induce immigration from Norway & Denmark, as these folk were considered to be good settlers.

The following ships brought immigrants to Dannevirke:-
The 'HOVDING' from Christiania brought 365 Norwegians and 11 Swedes. It made 2 trips - in May 1872 and in 1873.
The 'BALLARAT' departed in June 1872 from London with 71 Danes and arrived in Napier with the HOVDING in 1872.
The  'FRITZ REUTER' sailing  from Hamburg 1874 arrived in Napier 16th March. 1875 also brought immigrants to our area where descendents live to this day.
The HOVDING & BALLARAT formed the main nucleus.

The Gallery of History holds copies of the shipping lists of the 'HOVDING' 'BALLARAT' and 'FRITZ REUTER' vogages.

(Means Chieftain)

Hovding Sailing Ship

Hovding ( Barque)  

This 355 ton rigged sailing ship arrived in Napier on 15th September 1872 with Scandinavian emigrants from Christiana (Oslo).
Captain C.B Berg was in charge. He was killed on the return voyage.
The second emigrant sailing in the Hovding to Napier, was under the command of Captain C.A Nordby arriving 1st December 1873.
In 1882 the Hovding was cut down to a Barque and continued as a cargo trader, mainly timber, for some 27 years before being sent to the wreckers yard.


Dannevirke Gallery
of History

Open weekdays 10am-3pm

A Trove of Historical
items relating to the
Scandanavian Settlers

Owned & operated by a
Incorporated Society.

14 Gordon Street

Ph (06) 374 6300



Dannevirke quickly earned the nickname of "sleeper town", as the town's purpose was to provide
totara sleepers for the Napier - Wellington railway line.

Messrs Irvines - Log Hauling apparatus, Tamaki Bush

In about 1886 saw the first pit-sawn timber house.

Dannevirke had the finest milling bush, and in a few years over 50 mills were at work within a few miles of the township. This industry went ahead with great rapidity, communication with the outside world was facilitated. The formation of metalled roads and the construction of the railway, and Dannevirke gradually developed into a town.

Dannevirke had a large dairy factory co-op,many dairy factory's, an aerated water and cordial factory, a sash and door factory, brick and tile works, a coach-building establishment, and various other industries

The Pleiades


After sailing the seas for thirty years, and bringing many thousand immigrants to the Colony, the ship Pleiades met her doom by going ashore on the East Coast of the North Island in 1899.

  On the last voyage out in 1899, after a rather lengthy passage to Port Chalmers, she discharged her cargo and then sailed, for Napier in ballast to load wool for London.

Loading wool at Akitio  

She had a fair run up the coast, and at daylight on October 31 she was seen to be dangerously close to the land, but all efforts to "wear" her were unavailing, and as she was slowly drifting inshore before a heavy gale, Captain Burton, who was in command, decided to run her aground to, if possible, save life. The chief officer saw over the tops of the mountainous seas a likely spot, and in accordance with his gestures the vessel rushed within a few hundred yards of the dreaded reef on to Akitio beach, south of Cape Turn-again.
The Pleiades made 25 voyages, before leaving her bones on the beach at Akitio.  

Labour Day fire 

 In 1917 there was a quite different need to improve the town’s appearance: the great Labour Day fire that destroyed 35 buildings on either side of High Street, from Hall Street north to Barraud Street south.

Many residents were at the annual motorcycle race at the racecourse south of town and the response and the fire caught them off-guard  

Believed to have start in the Andrews Hotel (now the site of KFC, although an original `Andrews’ tiled doorstep is sited near the Hall street entrance) the fire destroyed buildings at the southern end of town between Station and High Streets.  

 Heat from flames there melted the High Street tarseal, allowing a sudden gust of wind to push the fire across the road and ignite the original Masonic Hotel. It burned quickly and continued southwards. Eventually the wind dropped and firemen could access the hot spots. No service lanes ran behind the buildings parallel to High Street then, making their job more difficult and back-up brigades from Woodville and Waipukurau helped.

 Temporary premises were quickly established and orders for replacement goods enabled the Christmas trade to continue.

 Permanent replacement buildings were erected, the majority being more solid and expensive than those destroyed and most still remain although not in the same business.  


 Dannevirke’s High Street looks smart with its modern street- scape and Town Clock at the corner of High and Ward Streets, officially opened in October 2009. 

 I would like to thank the

Gallery of History and The Cyclopedia of New Zealand contributing to this page.