Aaron Fleming with his Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award on Friday night (Supplied)
Aaron Fleming with his Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award on Friday night (Supplied)

One of New Zealand’s most inspiring businessmen and athlete was awarded a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award by the Governor-General on Friday night.

Aaron Fleming, 33, who has fought back from a life-threatening lung condition to compete in nine Ironman events around the world was officially presented with his award at a black-tie evening hosted at Government House, Wellington, in front of 120 New Zealand leaders, friends, family and supporters of Sir Peter Blake and the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

The annual Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards are the premier awards for leadership achievement in New Zealand.

These awards are given to inspirational mid-career leaders who have shown determination, the will to succeed and a belief in achieving extraordinary things, in the style of Sir Peter Blake himself.

In a fast-tracked professional career, Fleming has shown outstanding leadership skills during times of crisis and change and proven he can successfully engage, build and lead successful teams.

He’s held senior public sector roles in both local and central government and established environmental groups and events that encourage people to take better care of our country.

He has an affinity with youth, speaking at schools around the country, inspiring students to dream big and overcome adversity. And he’s proudly proven doctors wrong and become a globally-respected Ironman triathlete.

Aaron came out as gay to his family and friends in his mid-twenties and today sees himself as a leader, who also happens to be gay.

Aaron is an ambassador for Proud to Play, promoting inclusive sport and recreation, and aiming to eliminate homophobia in sport.

He bravely shared his “coming out” experience presenting the television show Neighbourhood, helping others to understand questions around their sexuality.

Sir Peter Blake, KBE, was the world’s most celebrated yachtsman.

In a 30-year career, he won every significant bluewater race on the planet. He also won and successfully defended the biggest sailing prize of all, the America’s Cup, and slashed the record for the fastest non-stop circumnavigation of the world under sail.

He then turned his focus to pursue his passion in protecting and caring for the environment, embarking on a mission to show people how beautiful and unique the world is.

By highlighting the contribution of these Blake Leaders, the Sir Peter Blake Trust hopes to turn the spotlight on leadership in New Zealand, inspiring and motivating all Kiwis to make a difference.

Sir Peter Blake Trust CEO Shelley Campbell said: “Our Blake Leaders, many who have overcome significant adversity, have already proven their leadership and ability to create positive change across their industries and communities.”

“We look forward to seeing their further leadership contribution to NZ Inc in the years to come,” said Campbell.

Other winners on the night included Sir Mason Durie, who won the Sir Peter Blake Medal for his lifelong commitment to making a difference in the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, and to ensuring that Maori play a significant part in the future of New Zealand.

Other leadership award winners were Dr. Te Maire Tau, LTCR Kerry Tutty, Paul Blackwell, Rukumoana Schaafhausen and William Pike.

2017 Blake Leadership Award winners Dr Te Maire Tau, Lieutenant Commander Kerry Tutty, Rukumoana Shaafhausen, Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, Sir Mason Durie (Blake Medallist), William Pike, Aaron Fleming, and Paul Blackwell (absent)
2017 Blake Leadership Award winners Dr. Te Maire Tau, Lieutenant Commander Kerry Tutty, Rukumoana Shaafhausen, Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, Sir Mason Durie (Blake Medallist), William Pike, Aaron Fleming, and Paul Blackwell (absent) (supplied)