Meet the team—Rebekah Ward-Johnston

Meet the team—Rebekah Ward-Johnston

‘Meet the team’ is our series featuring the people and teams who are here to give you support and advice during your time at university. This week we spoke to Rebekah Ward-Johnston, Health Coach at Mauri Ora.

Rebekah sits outside a cafe in Wellington.
Rebekah Ward-Johnston, Health Coach at Mauri Ora.

Kia ora, I’m Rebekah, the Health Coach at Mauri Ora. I help students create healthier habits, whether it’s food, sleep, or managing workloads.  

When I’m helping you create rhythm in your life, it’s really important to meet you where you are and understand what’s feasible for you. For example, if you’re only managing to eat toast at the moment, what can we put on that toast to make it more nutritious? Little tweaks like that are important—there’s no point in making a plan for you that you can’t implement!  

When you’re overwhelmed with a mountain on your plate, it can be hard to know where to even start.  

That’s where I can come in and help you break it down. I won’t tell you what to do, but I’ll work with you to get things moving. What would make the greatest difference right now? What does that look like? Sometimes we need an outside perspective to help us identify the priorities and make things a little less overwhelming.  

Mental and emotional wellbeing has a huge knock on effect to our physical health. I use Te Whare Tapa Wha—the four pillars of the house.  

When one pillar is weak, the whole house falls down. I ask students to look at the things that affect their wellbeing. We look at the physical elements, the mental and emotional components, how they connect through whanau or friends, and then spirituality—whatever they perceive that to be. That gives us a blueprint for what health looks like if everything is in place. If you can keep these four pillars strong, that gives you a great foundation for your studies. When things go askew, we need to look at what makes life feel whole, what’s missing, and how we can put that piece back in so we can do the things that have to be done.  

My biggest bit of advice? Put a carrot in your bag!  

Take something nourishing to uni like a carrot or a piece of fruit. If you walk past the vending machine, eat your carrot first, and then go buy your lollies after if you still feel like it. But try and eat something nourishing before you eat something that’s not going to support your body. My other piece of advice is create a routine – it doesn’t have to be strict, but it will really help. These are things that I can help with.  

You don’t need to be referred to see me, just phone Mauri Ora and book right in.  

If I think you’d benefit from seeing another service, I can make that connection too – whether it’s disability services, student learning, the GP, or the counselling service. I’ve been here for three years now so I’ve seen students graduate, and I feel so proud of them knowing the struggles they’ve had, and they’ve got there and done it.  

Rebekah Ward-Johnston is the Health Coach at Mauri Ora.

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