Dannevirke, meaning 'Danes work', is a rural service town in the southern Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand. It is the major town of the administrative district of Tararua. The surrounding area has developed into dairy & sheep farming, which now provides the major income for the town's population of 6,000.
The town was founded in 1872 by Danish 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 settlement quickly earned the nickname of 'sleeper town', as the town's purpose was to provide totara sleepers for the Napier-Wellington railway. At one stage the area had 50 operating sawmills. After the native bush was cleared, the land was turned into pasture for grazing animals.
The Australian politician, and former Premier of Queensland, Jo Bjelke-Petersen was born in Dannevirke.