La Valla hosts a purpose-built theatre, constructed on a former music room, and Dennis’ shows are attracting busloads of visitors from throughout the North Island to the venue.
Dennis was born in Te Kuiti, one of ten children, and his father raised sheep for a living, a job that kept the family on the move. By his own admission, he wasn’t very enthusiastic about school, and when he was 18 he set out for Auckland, hoping to land an apprenticeship in carpentry.
While living in a hostel in Auckland, Dennis became involved in New Zealand Youth for Christ, and joined their vocal group, Living Bread, who performed at events in Australia, the Philippines, and Asia, and even recorded an album in 1970.
In 1976, he enrolled in a theological college, and in time became assistant minister at the Maori Evangelical Fellowship Church in New Zealand. In 1984, Dennis visited a country music club for the first time; given his background in Christian music, he was asked to sing, and soon fell in love with the sound and songs of classic country and western. While Dennis didn’t turn his back on gospel, he became a growing presence in New Zealand’s country music community, and his frequent touring and strength as a performer helped him win the title of New Zealand Country Music Entertainer of the Year in 1989.
That same year, he released his first album, which went gold and was followed by four albums in the 1990s which went platinum.
In 2011, Marsh celebrated his Maori heritage with the album The Maori Songbook, which not only earned him another platinum award but for the first time gave him a New Zealand number one album. This year, his 26th album, Lest We Forget, rose to the top of the New Zealand album charts and went gold in just four days. Since you’re here… we have a small favour to ask. More and more people want the Post than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Post’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. With investigative reporting, we often don't know at the beginning how a story will unfold and how long it might take to uncover. This can mean it is costly – particularly as we often face legal threats that attempt to stop our reporting. But we remain committed to raising important questions and exposing wrongdoing. And we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as NZ$5, you can support the Post – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Post