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Ironman and New Zealand's bearer of the 2008 Olympic flame.


Motivated by a passion for positive change, Aaron Fleming is a dynamic and results-focused natural leader with a social conscience, thriving on navigating complexity. As a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, 16-time Ironman competitor, Olympic torchbearer, and author of the inspirational book Purpose, Aaron Fleming's story is nothing short of remarkable.

Since 2017, Aaron has served as the Director of Operations for Southern South Island at the Department of Conservation / Te Papa Atawhai, overseeing nearly four million hectares of Aotearoa's biodiversity-rich conservation areas. His responsibilities span Otago, Fiordland, Murihiku/Southland, Rakiura/Stewart Island, and the World Heritage Sub-Antarctic Islands. Aaron's driving force is to improve the lives of New Zealanders by connecting them with nature, ensuring the thriving of Papatūānuku. Managing visitor experiences plays a pivotal role in fostering this positive connection.

A highly experienced and trusted management executive, Aaron boasts nationally recognized leadership experience and a proven track record of delivering outstanding results. His expertise encompasses operations, good governance, Maori resource management, stakeholder relations, change management, financial and risk management, project management, leadership development, strategic planning and delivery, internal and external communications, and marketing/public relations.

An internationally renowned athlete, Aaron has achieved the remarkable feat of completing 16 Ironman Triathlons, showcasing not only physical resilience but also a mindset geared towards tackling challenges head-on. This tenacity was further highlighted during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where he served as a New Zealand Ambassador and Torchbearer, symbolizing the embodiment of national pride and sportsmanship.

Beyond the realm of sports, Aaron Fleming’s leadership is evident through various accolades, including being a 2-time recipient of the New Zealander of the Year Local Hero Award and a previous Young New Zealander of the Year Finalist as well as a Blake Leader Alumni – Emerging Leader Award.

Aaron Fleming was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit by His Majesty King Charles during the 2024 New Year's Honours. This accolade is a testament to a lifetime dedicated to excellence, community, and leadership.

Aaron Fleming's journey is marked by resilience. Despite a dire health prognosis that initially hindered his physical activity, he transformed his life. Overcoming addiction and severe depression, Aaron set a courageous goal – completing the grueling New Zealand Ironman. Starting from minimal swimming and running abilities, he achieved this goal through sheer determination and gutsy self-belief. Today, Aaron is not only a revered figure in the international triathlon community but is also working towards completing an Ironman race on every continent, showcasing his enduring commitment to personal challenges and global triumphs.

A sought-after speaker, Aaron's engaging, emotional and humorous presentations reflect his journey of resilience, leadership, and triumph.

Aaron was wonderful - such a warm inspirational young man who has been through and suffered so much. His amazing mental strength has helped him overcome far more adversity than most people have experienced in a lifetime. His book Purpose' seemed to be in great demand and so many of the members I spoke to were going to pass it on to someone in need of positivity in their life. AMICUS Meeting
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