A small town in rural New Zealand, situated on the east side of the North Island, Dannevirke (pronunciation: Danny-virk) was first settled by Danes, hence the name, which means, apparently, "Fort of the Danes". Most of the population are involved in dairy farming, or with the local meat works.
Dannevirke is not a buzzing metropolis, by any means, the biggest news of 2001 being the opening of a 'Warehouse' (a low-cost department store) where one of the pubs used to stand. Escapees from the town, and inhabitants of larger boroughs have been known to refer to it, sarcastically, as "Dannevegas"
The town is proud of its Nordic heritage, and Vikings are prominent on signs – the screaming, axe-wielding berserker on the community hall is very probably used as a bogeyman to scare local children into good behaviour.
The figure which adorns the entry and exit (kitschly labelled 'Farvel!') signs is less intimidating, although he is a newcomer – it used to be a beardless youth, in short white tunic and horned helmet raising a goblet aloft -- but this rather camp character (known affectionately to visitors as 'the gay Viking') has been usurped by a sober, fur-clad, standard Norseman.
Dannevirke is a perfect example of heartland New Zealand. Everyone knows everyone else's business, it has excellent facilities in terms of schools, sport and shopping, it closes at Saturday lunchtime, and doesn't open again till Monday, and the people who live there love it, no matter how much anyone else makes fun of it – and we do.