Friday, 28 November 2008


At the moment I'm away at a croquet tournament (The Veteran's or Vet's about which I shall blog separately) at Dannevirke (Danish: "Danish creation" or "Danes' work"), which is a rural service town in the Manawatu-Wanganui area of New Zealand about 90 minutes drive South of Napier. The surrounding area has developed into dairy and sheep farming, which now provides the major income for the town's population of 6,000.

The town was founded on 15 October 1872 by Danish, Norwegian and Swedish settlers, 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. The Dannevirke for which the town was named is an extensive Viking-age fortification line 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. (Information from Wikepedia - is there anything Wikepedia doesn't tell you?)

It is on the main State Highway 50 South from Hawkes Bay to Wellington and is usually just somewhere one pase through and perhaps has coffee and a comfort stop. It has always seemed very run down to me with half the main street (the SH 50) being taken up with second-hand shops. At the moment there are lots of public works being undertaken to spruce it up.

The Motel in Dannevirke where we are staying. Appropriately named the Viking Motel it was, until fairly recently, the only motel in the town.

Yet another example of wall art.

A modern use for an older building

The Bank of New Zealand branch in Dannevirke

The old Court House, now a museum

The café where Steve and I eventually found a coffee when we toured New Zealand a few years ago
Bizarre or what?

Formerly a hotel now a café

Guess what Danevirke is known for?

The Town Hall and a splendid modern set of electronically controlled toilets. As this is set on the A50 main trunk route they are very popular indeed. I still have some difficulty trusting them though.

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