Dannevirke (Danish: "Danes' work" and a reference to Danevirke) (Māori: Taniwaka), 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 Tākitimu / Kurahaupō waka. The tribe of the area is the Ngāti Kahungunu / Rangitāne, 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.
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 town's 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.
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 an Oceanic climate, (Köppen:Cfb). 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