The Central App

In 2016, Marielle Craighead seized the perfect opportunity to merge her whizz-kid computer skills with a talent for advertising sales.

Marielle recognised the potential for a community-focused app—The Central App—that could be more than just a business service.

Now with 13,000 downloads, The Central App’s success proves her punt was spot on.
The Central App

Marielle Craighead

Around town she’s `The App lady’ who’s established a successful start-up business.

But Marielle doesn’t believe in the typical five-year plan. “I might miss an opportunity that comes out of left field,” she says.

Born in Holland and raised in Kenya, Marielle moved to New Zealand with her family when she was 14.  After completing a computer science degree, she based herself in Holland, travelling throughout Europe and North America as a product specialist.

Later living back in New Zealand, she visited Central Otago to tramp, ski or bike.

“Part of Central reminds me of Africa. They say if you’ve lived in Africa it gets in your blood and never lets you go. Some of the open spaces, particularly when I go out to the Maniototo, remind me so much of Kenya. I think that’s why it’s got into my heart and I’ve loved Central ever since. This place is home.”

The Central App The Central App The Central App

Connecting Communities

Central Otago Value: Making a Difference

Marielle’s driving force is to make a positive, tangible difference in her community and be a good corporate citizen.

She understands and values The Central App’s role: connecting people across the region’s small, diverse communities so they know what’s happening in their patch and elsewhere.

“Central Otago is made up of these little communities, but we are all Central.”

“I know the App makes a positive difference in people’s lives because I get emails from people thanking me for the little things I let them know about. Like the heads-up we gave people when it looked like there could be flash flooding recently because of a thunderstorm coming through. Our message meant some people took precautions so that their homes weren’t flooded.”

Telling Positive Stories

Central Otago Value: Having Integrity

Delivering wholesome community news is at the forefront of Marielle’s philosophy—The Central App reports stories truthfully in a community-minded way. It’s a news hub and a one-stop local resource, housing and distributing free information about community meetings and activities all in one place.

“We try to tell our stories openly and honestly. For me that’s part of the integrity. We will, wherever possible, try and do our news in a positive way. It doesn’t mean to say we’re going to fudge the news, but in my experience, there are three different ways of reporting a story. There’s the positive way, there’s the middle of the road way and a negative way.”

A Place to Belong

Central Otago Value: Embracing Diversity

As Central Otago grows in spirit and population, The Central App has a unique role to play in nurturing a sense of belonging and celebrating the region’s diversity of people, lifestyles and ideas.

“We very much embrace the diversity of this region—the fact that there are so many different people who live here now. I think everybody should be treasured for being proud of their community and promoting that community. That’s what makes Central so special and The Central App can be part of that.”

“I love how everyone is really relaxed and friendly here. I’ve worked in a few other places around the world, I don’t think I’ve met a business community like this, and I love it. People just respect you for who you are."

The Central App