Danish New Zealanders

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Danish New Zealanders
Total population
1,491 (Danish born)
3,507 (Danish ancestry)[1]
Related ethnic groups
Danes, Scandinavian New Zealanders, Norwegian New Zealanders, Swedish New Zealanders

Danish New Zealanders are New Zealanders with full or partial Danish ancestry. The majority of these people are part of the Danish diaspora.


There is a small Danish community in New Zealand, descended from a group of early settlers who came to clear thick North Island bush, in the middle years of the 19th century, and stayed to found settlements including Dannevirke and Norsewood.[2][3] High-ranking Danish churchman, Bishop Ditlev Gothard Monrad, who had been Danish Prime Minister during the Second Schleswig War, left Denmark as a result of the war and settled with his family in Karere near Palmerston North in 1866, where he set up the first dairy plant in the region.[4][5][6] Monrad returned to Denmark in 1869, but other members of his family stayed in New Zealand,[7] he left behind his collection of art now housed at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.[8] Those who stayed cleared the bush in the area, and their efforts helped convince Julius Vogel that they were suitable in character to become part of his planned 'Great Public Works' scheme of the 1870s.[9] Isaac Featherston went to Scandinavia in 1870 to attract settlers in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.[10] The first settlers from this initiative arrived in 1871 and settled in the bush between Palmerston North and Foxton.[11] Other Danes came to the Seventy Mile Bush area in 1872 and founded the town which retains the Danish name of Dannevirke, commemorating the Danevirke in Slesvig.[4][12] The other town created by the Danes was Norsewood.[4] Both those towns were named by the government.[11]

New Zealand has encouraged immigration of temporary workers from Denmark.[13]


When the Danes immigrated to New Zealand, they brought with them their language, festivals, food and culture and assimilated to New Zealand society, such as by learning English. There is the Danish Society Inc. in Auckland which promotes Danish history, culture and language within New Zealand.[14] There is also the Danish Societies in the upper North Island, which includes the Danish Society, Hamilton and the Danish Society, Auckland which hosts festivals and run a newsletter.[15]

Notable Danish New Zealanders[edit]

Name Born Notable for Connection with New Zealand and Denmark
Colin Beyer 1938–2015 Lawyer, businessman Of Danish descent
Arnold Christensen 1922–1944 Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot during World War II Of Danish descent
Joy Cowley 1936– Author Of Danish descent
Marton Csokas 1966– Actor Of Danish descent
Yvonne du Fresne 1929–2011 Author Of Danish descent
Fairfax Fenwick 1852–1920 Cricketer Danish-born
Herbert Fenwick 1861–1934 Cricketer Danish-born
Kristian Fredrikson 1940–2005 Stage and costume designer Of Danish descent
Ditlev Gothard Monrad 1811–1887 Politician, Council President of Denmark Danish-born
Craig Parker 1970– Actor, acted in The Lord of the Rings trilogy Of Danish descent
Frederick Schramm 1886–1962 Politician, lawyer Of Danish descent
Linda Villumsen 1985– Olympic cyclist Danish-born

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Archived 24 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Olavi Koivukangas (1983). Scandinavian emigration to Australia and New Zealand project: proceedings of a symposium, February 17-19, 1982, Turku, Finland. Institute of Migration. p. 53. N.Z., is worth quoting, as it reveals some of the sentiments within the Danish community at the end of the last century: "Vågn op I danske Drenge Til Munterhed og Sang, Vi nu New Zealand tjene, Og blive nok ... Not all Scandinavian settlers were as successful as the last line hoped they would be, and present day Dannevirke and Norsewood show little of the once thriving Scandinavian communities there. 
  3. ^ Conrad Kisch (2009). Destination. New Zealand. Gyldendal Uddannelse. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-87-02-07584-7. 
  4. ^ a b c "Kingdom of Denmark Bilateral Relations". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "Recent Publications" (PDF). New Zealand Religious History Newsletter. Religious History Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (20). October 2007. 
  6. ^ George Conrad Petersen (1973). Palmerston North; a centennial history. Reed. pp. 64–. ISBN 978-0-589-00793-5. In 1866 New Zealand received an unusual and notable immigrant in the person of one who had recently been premier of Denmark, was a bishop of the Lutheran Church, ... Ditlev Gothard Monrad was in all respects a remarkable figure. 
  7. ^ Maurice Shadbolt; Reader's Digest Services Pty (1 November 1988). Reader's Digest guide to New Zealand. Reader's Digest. ISBN 978-0-86438-037-1. Ditlev Gothard Monrad, the deposed prime minister of Denmark and Bishop of Lolland and Falster, arrived in the Manawatu after ... Although Monrad returned to Danish parliamentary life in 1869, his two sons remained behind. 
  8. ^ Ian Macfarlane; Robin Briggs (1 January 2011). Bishop Monrad in Aotearoa: Ditlev Gothard Monrad's Life and His Legacy to New Zealand. Karere Publications. ISBN 978-0-473-19418-5. 
  9. ^ Walrond, Carl (25 March 2015). "Scandinavians – 1642–1870: first arrivals". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Margit Brew (2007). Scandinavian Footprints: A History of Scandinavians Settling in New Zealand. M. Brew. pp. 191–. ISBN 978-0-473-12481-6. 
  11. ^ a b Walrond, Carl (25 March 2015). "Scandinavians – 1870s: assisted migration". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  12. ^ MacDonald, J.R. (2008) [1903]. Geography of New Zealand. BiblioBazaar. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-554-93730-4. Retrieved 8 December 2009. Dannevirke [...] in the Upper Manawatu basin [...] This town was originally a Danish settlement in the Seventy-mile B[u]sh [...] 
  13. ^ "NZ Government website on Immigration from Denmark". Retrieved 29 April 2009. 
  14. ^ "Danish Society Inc". Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  15. ^ "Danish Societies in the upper Nth. Island". Retrieved 22 February 2017. 

Further reading[edit]