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Scandinavian festival

February 22, 2013

21-24 February  is the Scandinavian festival 2013 hosted by Tararua District.

Once known as the 70 Mile Bush, the area from Mauriceville in south Tararua to Norsewood in north Tararua, has been connected to Norway and Denmark since 1872, because many of the immigrant pioneer Scandinavian families settled here. In 1871, the Public Works Department commissioned the High Commissioner in England to obtain suitable emigrants from Norway and Sweden for this area.

According to articles in the Bush Advocate (available on microfilm at Dannevirke library or online at Papers Past), the early Scandinavian settlers initially spread out around the district – Norsewood was made up of mainly Norwegians, Ormondville & Mokotuku was chiefly Danes, and Dannevirke was populated by a mixture – 14 Danes, 6 Norwegians and 2 Swedes, each left to hew their fortunes out of the 14 acre forested area set aside for the pioneers.  Initially their main income was  clearing old Totara trees and fashioning them into 80,000 sleepers, which they sold to the government for one shilling each.  By 1904, only 3 of these original Dannevirke settlers remained; Brent Amundsen, Hans Jensen and Mrs Gronnebeck.

To this little bunch of buildings the name of Dannevirke was given by the first settlers as a reminiscence of their Old World history, for they brought with them from Denmark the memory of the famous line of torts erected by King Gottrik in the 9th century as a protection to their country against invasion from the south, and perhaps they desired to rear on more peaceful lines another monument of ‘Danes’ work” to replace that which fell before the assault of the Prussians in 1848” (source: Bush Advocate March 1904).

If you’re coming for the festival, why not take a tour or see the sights while you’re here.  Don’t forget the Gallery of History on Gordon Street, Dannevirke, will be open both Saturday and Sunday. Dannevirke library is open Sat 10am-1pm – come and see our mural; Pahiatua library (30 minutes drive south) is open Sat 10am-12 noon.

Panel 2 of mural

Part of mural depicting Scandinavian origins of Tararua



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