"Mental fitness" is a key focus for Gemma McCaw in the New Zealand hockey star's new venture as health and wellbeing coach.

The former Blackstick is leading a line-up of speakers at a breakfast fundraiser next month for Life Education Trust. The trust delivers a health programme to 12,000 Bay of Plenty school children without government funding.

McCaw told said she would speak about the importance of mental wellbeing as well as physical.

"When you are a performance athlete you focus on the physical components of health, eating well, sleeping well, training hard and sleeping ... What I have learned coming out of hockey and in my work now is mental health is a big part of it.


"We all know someone affected. It's important to look at the other facets that enable a happy and healthy life ... The importance of key relationships, meaning and purpose, celebrating accomplishments, being engaged in what you do and the small things that make you happy each day."

McCaw, who has been studying positive psychology and wellbeing, was passionate about emphasising people's strengths.

"Focusing on what is right in people, shining light on strengths, everyone deserves to feel good and function well."

The breakfast at Tauranga Racecourse will be an opportunity for McCaw to speak to a home crowd.

Harold the Giraffe is mascot for Life Education Trust. Photo/ John Borren
Harold the Giraffe is mascot for Life Education Trust. Photo/ John Borren

McCaw grew up in Tauranga and fondly remembered Life Education classes and its mascot Harold the Giraffe at Tauranga Intermediate school, where her mother now teaches.

"Some of my fondest memories are learning with Harold, we always looked forward to those sessions. Most people I talk to remember Harold ... he has really made an impact on helping kids learn these important topics."

As well as getting reacquainted with Harold, it will be a time for McCaw to see her parents and nana. She still calls Tauranga "home" although she lives in Christchurch with her husband Richie McCaw.

"When we fly into Christchurch Rich says, 'does this feel like home?'.... I say home is where the heart is ... but I love Tauranga. I still call Tauranga home and love getting back any opportunity I can, and this is a great cause to get the community together."

Sam Dowdall, Barter Barber, and his dog Bo. Photo/file
Sam Dowdall, Barter Barber, and his dog Bo. Photo/file

Also speaking at the breakfast is mental health advocate Barter Barber Sam Dowdall and Dr Anna Rolleston.

Kaye Jamieson of the Western Bay Life Education Trust said she hoped locals would support the event.

"It will be a Graham Norton style question and answer session so will be very informative, as well as helping us raise funds to keep delivering the programme to Bay students."

Life Education Breakfast
When: May 4, 7am to 9.30am
Where: Fairway Lounge, Tauranga Racecourse
Cost: Tickets $50 per person
Extras: Raffles and photos with Harold
For tickets email westernbop@lifeedtrust.org.nz or text 0274089355.