Dennis Marsh honoured for lifetime of music and charity work

By Jessica Tyson

Legendary Māori country singer Dennis Marsh has ended his year on a high year after being named in the New Year’s Honours List today for his service to music and fundraising.

Already this year Marsh received multiple awards including Te Mata o te Ariki special award at the Matariki Awards. He also became a Kiwibank local hero medal recipient and was honoured as a musical legend when he received the highest honour at the Benny Awards.

But being named as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit today extra special, he says, since it's not only for his service to music but also for charity work.

“I think it’s a great honour to be part of something that I wasn’t aware of. I think you do a lot of things for people, you’re not aware that other people are watching. I think it’s a really good surprise.”

Throughout his life, Marsh has performed regularly at fundraisers, including at events supporting charities such as St John, Westpac Helicopter, the Heart Foundation and more.

“I think the reason that I'm part of charity work for so long is that I'm giving somebody else an opportunity to be a little bit better than what they would be and you see them happy. To me that's my job done.”

He's one of New Zealand's highest-selling country music artists, having sold over 300,000 albums. A highlight was receiving the Matariki Award.

“The Matariki Award has been really magic. Being a Māori and from Māori Television, it was amazing.”

He owes his success to his wife Yvonne who helps manage his performances. She is also creating a book full of his lifetime successes.

“She's my backbone to what I've achieved so this is both of ours. It’s not just mine.”

At 69 years old, he still performs at events including one tonight in Tauranga.

“For me, if I sing to people and they're enjoying themselves that just keeps me going.”

He and Yvonne are planning a nationwide tour in March so there's no doubt more achievements will be added to this book in the new year.  Marsh's plans for 2020 also include spending more time on his boat and celebrating his 70th birthday in Norfolk Island.

Other achievements:

• 2008 National Country Music (Kiwi Pro Am) NZ Male Country Artist of the Year.

• 2009 Variety Artist Club NZ Male Artist of the Year and NZ, Country Male Artist of the Year for the 2nd year running at the National Country Music Awards.

• 2011 Maori Songbook album (GOLD/PLATINUM) This album went on to reach Gold and Platinum Status and was the second to the group Six60 as the highest selling album of all genres in New Zealand for that year.

• 2011 NZ Country Music Association Legend of the Year at the National Country Music Assn Awards.

• 2011   Star on Boulevard of dreams, Orewa.

• 2011   Inducted into the Gore Country Music hall of fame.

• 2012-2013 Presenter Maori TV Series 'My Country Song'

• 2013 NZ Country Male Artist of the Year at the National Country Music Assn awards.

• 2013   A huge honour for Dennis to be the Face of the Norfolk Island $1.65 stamp for the 20th Anniversary of the Norfolk Island Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year.

• 2015 Lest We Forget (GOLD)  Dennis’ tribute to ANZAC personnel, was a major success in April 2015, reaching Gold status.

• 2018   Recording Industry Award for over 300,000 album sales

• 2018   30th Album, Backyard Party, debuted at #1 on the NZ Music Charts, as have his last 4 albums.  Gold after 3 weeks.