Legendary Māori country singer honoured for contribution to music

By Jessica Tyson

New Zealand's best-known multi-award winning Māori country singer Dennis Marsh has won again tonight at 2019 the Matariki Awards.

The Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine descendant was honoured for as the winner of the Te Mata o te Ariki special award for his outstanding contribution to music.

Marsh has released 20 albums, two No.1s, four gold albums and six platinum albums, including Backyard Party in 2018.

In 1985 he was the overall winner of the Auckland Country Music Award, winning every section he entered including the senior male, senior instrumental and senior overall winner.

In 2018, Marsh received a  Recording Industry Award for over 300,000 album sales and his 20th Album, Backyard Party, debuted at number one on the NZ Music Charts, as have his last four albums.   

In the mid-90s there was a lack of airplay in New Zealand for country artists so Marsh decided to record in Nashville to see if the change could get airplay on mainstream New Zealand radio.

This worked for a few years but in the late 90s, all mainstream country music radio stations closed down through lack of funding. 

Marsh decided the only way to market music was to go to the markets and promote yourself, which he did and continues to do today.

Recent 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.