Power Meri





    Power Meri has won the prestigious June Andrews Award for Women's Leadership in Media, praised by The Walkley Foundation judges as "a refreshing account of the power of women to challenge and change attitudes...that has had significant national and global impact".

  • The Walkley Foundation May 26, 2020

    Power Meri has been named as a finalist for the June Andrews Award for Women's Leadership in Media in the prestigious Walkleys, Australia's top journalism awards.

  • Rugby Reloaded Mar 2, 2020

    To celebrate International Women's Day we talk to journalist and broadcaster Joanna Lester about her amazing film 'Power Meri', which charts the rise of women's rugby league in Papua New Guinea.

  • We Are Moving Stories Feb 24, 2020

    Power Meri follows Papua New Guinea’s first national women’s rugby league team, the PNG Orchids, on their journey to the world cup in Australia. These trailblazers must beat not only the sporting competition, but also intense sexism, a lack of funding, and national prejudice to reach their biggest stage yet.

  • Sport Australia Feb 13, 2020

    Power Meri has won a top Australian media award in the category 'best depiction of inclusive sport' at the prestigious Sport Australia Media Awards in Sydney

  • AIPS Sports Media Awards Jan 10, 2020

    From hundreds of entries globally, Power Meri has reached the final shortlist in the 'video documentary' category of the International Association of Sports Journalists (AIPS) Sport Media Awards.

  • Sport Australia Dec 3, 2019

    Power Meri has been announced as a finalist in the prestigious Sport Australia Media Awards in the category 'Best Depiction of Inclusive Sport'

  • Culture Vulture Apr 24, 2019

    It’s rare to see a film that captures so eloquently the power of sport to inspire people and be that catalyst for change. This is more than just a sports documentary, it’s a very human story of triumph over adversity and a beautifully crafted film.  

  • Loop Entertainment Oct 17, 2019

    Under the theme, "Stand with me for rights in PNG", the 10th annual PNG Human Rights Film Festival opens again this evening in Port Moresby, at the Moresby Arts Theatre. Festival favourite Power Meri will return this year. 

  • On Milwaukee Oct 22, 2019

    A rough-and-tumble team of powerful trailblazing women form the first women's rugby league team, the PNG Orchids, in rugby-obsessed Papua New Guinea while also fighting the country's sexist, regressive attitudes.

  • NRL - Alicia Newton Sep 18, 2019

    Behind the emotion of Papua New Guinea's inclusion for the 2017 women's Rugby League World Cup, a far greater story was being told.

    Power Meri has taken the Pacific by storm after reaching Australian shores for screenings in March and will now premiere on NITV in Australia on September 23 at 7.30pm. 

    The documentary will then be available on SBS catch up following the broadcast for 30 days.

  • Sydney Morning Herald - Melinda Houston Sep 17, 2019

    This simple but handsome documentary follows that team, the Orchids, from its formation in 2017 over the course of the next 12 months. A period in which they play an exhibition match against Australian team the Jillaroos (who also happen to be world champions), and take part in the World Cup. This is a story full of wonderful characters and a tale of transformation not just for the powerful women – the power meris – directly involved, but for the nation as a whole.

  • Caledonia La Tele Sep 5, 2019

    English headline: Cathy Neap champions women's rugby league
    English summary: Video: it was an encounter these 35 girls from Noumea won't forget in a hurry with international women's rugby league player Cathy Neap - an exchange around the place of women's rugby in the sport, and a fight that remains relevant.

  • Nouvelle Caledonia La Premiere Sep 2, 2019

    English headline: Power Meri: how rugby serves the cause of women

    English summary: Orchids captain Cathy Neap is from a place affected by violence and crime. Through the documentary she becomes a spokesperson for PNG women, sweeping aside sexist prejudices. Often mocked, these 'rugbywomen' have moved a whole country.

  • The Guardian - Megan Maurice Aug 4, 2019

    Forget the trolls, social media also builds inclusion through and for women's sport.

    For Brisbane Broncos NRLW player and Papua New Guinea Orchids representative Amelia Kuk, social media is about breaking down barriers. While Kuk was raised in Australia, she is aware there are a lot of barriers to girls and women playing sport back in her country of birth and she wants to carve out a clear pathway for future generations.

  • Beyond Sport Jul 25, 2019

    Power Meri shortlisted for global impact award.

    This year’s Beyond Sport Global Awards Shortlist of 29 standouts covers 37 countries acrosssix continents using more than 40 sports to positively impact communities around the world and to move us all further towards achieving the UN Global Goals by 2030. #SameTeam

    The entries represent truly innovative ways sport is being used to change lives across a variety of social issues, including: tackling violence, injustice and discrimination in South Africa through futsal; changing the perception of women in Papua New Guinea through rugby; boosting college and career readiness through basketball in the US; and promoting inclusion of young people with disabilities through baseball in Brazil - just to name a few.

  • Samoa Observer - Sapeer Mayron Jul 9, 2019

    The Orchids of P.N.G. prove sport is a gender equality tool.

    In some Pacific Islands, the roles of women are still restricted to the home, and their social mobility is limited. But sport might be the solution to that, both for uplifting women, and for changing societal attitudes about them.

    Recent release Power Meri is a documentary following the first Papua New Guinea rugby league team from its inception to their first ever World Cup in Australia. And with rugby league nines added to the Pacific Games schedule in January this year, some of those players are in Samoa this week.

  • Papua-New Guinea Post-Courier Jul 7, 2019

    "Screen Without Borders" to Manus.

    The cinema returned to Manus Island for the first time in 40 years with the support of the Paladin group.

    Local communities on Manus Island have experienced the magic of cinema for the first time since the 1970s thanks to an initiative by Australia-based not-for-profit Screens Without Borders (SWB).

    Several hundred members of the community attended the screenings of Power Meri, a film that follows the first PNG national women's rugby team's journey to the 2017 World Cup which took place in remote locations such as Lugos, Rossun, and Loniu.

  • China Global Television Network Nov 1, 2018

  • Fox Sports Jun 20, 2019

    Prejudice, injury, tragedy: How PNG’s women are overcoming obstacles

    For a country of more than eight million people, 800 languages and 500 islands, the one thing which unites Papua New Guinea is rugby league.

    It is fitting, therefore, that its national team encompasses such variety.

    PNG’s women’s side — the Orchids — take on Fiji at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday night and their squad includes a mix of faces with backgrounds to match.

  • ABC - Ladies Who League - Mary Konstantopoulos Apr 29, 2019

    ANZAC Round with Ellen Conroy and Luke Potter. Interviews with Amelia Kuk and Ryan Sutton.

  • The Sydney Morning Herald - Amelia Kuk Apr 13, 2019

    In PNG, footy challenges beliefs about 'what a woman’s role should be'

    As a woman in sport, I know exactly how it feels to be trolled on social media. It happens to a lot of us. When I saw what AFLW player Tayla Harris was going through with the comments on that photo last month, it resonated.

    Unfortunately, whatever your code, being harassed by strangers online is something a lot of us can all relate to in women’s footy.

  • Loop PNG Apr 12, 2019

    PNG Orchids documentary praised.

    PNG's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Winne Kiap, praised the vision and contribution of women's rugby league pioneers in PNG at the UK premiere of 'Power Meri', the PNG Orchids documentary.

  • ABC Radio National - Fran Kelly Apr 5, 2019

    New documentary highlights the power of PNG women through rugby league.

    Papua New Guinea is one of the world's most dangerous countries for women.

    Indeed, no women sit in the country's Parliament, and more than two-thirds of all women in Papua New Guinea have suffered violence or rape at the hands of a partner.

  • BBC Radio Apr 1, 2019

    The Women's Season Launch - Dave Woods sits down with Joanna Lester, Jodie Cunningham and Lois Forsell.

  • The ROAR - Stuart McLennan Apr 1, 2019

    The women’s game is not a short term PR exercise.

    You only have to watch Power Meri, Joanna Lester’s superb documentary detailing the Papua New Guinea women’s team’s course to the 2017 World Cup and the barriers they faced, to get an insight into the positive social impact the game can offer.

  • Women's Agenda - Madeline Hislop Apr 10, 2019

    ‘We are using rugby league to drive change’: Meet PNG Orchids star Amelia Kuk.

    Power Meri is a new documentary that follows Papua New Guinea’s first national women’s rugby league team on their journey to the 2017 World Cup. Power Meri also sadly reveals just how rampant online abuse is in the female sporting world, unsurprising given the Tayla Harris photo incident.

  • Love Rugby League - Drew Darbyshire Apr 4, 2019

    Powerful rugby league film Power Meri to be screened in England.

    A new women's rugby league documentary film will premiere in London on Monday, April 8, following rave reviews at international film festivals and preview screenings.

  • The Telegraph - Joanna Lester Apr 8, 2019

    How rugby league improved 'one of the worst places in the world to be a woman'.

    London-born journalist Joanna Lester moved to Papua New Guinea in search of the deeper meaning of sport. She ended up making a documentary film about the country’s first national women’s rugby league team, which has its UK premiere in London tonight (Monday 8 April).

  • Warrington Worldwide - James Gordon Apr 2, 2019

    A POWERFUL new documentary film featuring the story of the Papua New Guinea women’s rugby league team is coming to Warrington Odeon this month.

    With the new women’s rugby league season, featuring Warrington Wolves for the first time, set to kick-off later this month, it’s a great time to show support for the game at 6pm on Tuesday 16 April.

  • The Women's Game - Angela Bacic Apr 1, 2019


    Dual rugby league representative Amelia Kuk believes that sport can help change the traditional mindsets.

  • Love Rugby League - Drew Darbyshire Feb 21, 2019

    Eye-opening documentary on Papua New Guinea Orchids to be released.

    A new film on Papua New Guinea’s women’s team is set to be released, which highlights the bridging of the gender gap in the country.

    Power Meri has proved to be a great hit in the Pacific and is set to reach Australian shores for screening in March.

  • NRL.com - Alicia Newton Feb 21, 2019

    We can make a difference': New film captures PNG Orchids' road to World Cup.

    Behind the emotion of Papua New Guinea's inclusion for the 2017 women's Rugby League World Cup, a far greater story was being told.

    Power Meri has taken the Pacific by storm and is set to reach Australian shores for screening in March.

  • DFAT News Feb 14, 2019

    PNG women’s sport stories receive global acclaim.

    A documentary film and radio story about Papua New Guinea’s first national women’s rugby league team, the Orchids, are receiving international recognition for shining a light on the social impact of women’s sport and fostering community discussion about gender-based violence and female leadership.

  • Cultural Pulse - Anisha Mistry Nov 13, 2018

    Power Meri: Bringing power to women’s Rugby League in Papua New Guinea

    Directed by Joanna Lester and featuring the voices of several players and coaches, Power Meri showcases the power of Rugby League in bringing positive change to a country, and has recently been officially selected for the Oceania International Documentary Film Festival 2019 in Tahiti.

  • The Interpreter - Joanna Lester Nov 7, 2018

    I never set out to make a film. But, as many filmmakers seem to discover, the story found me.

    I have always been interested in the power of sport, and in 2014 I moved to Papua New Guinea to work in media and communications for the NRL-run, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-funded League Bilong Laif (League for Life) program, which uses rugby league in schools and communities to deliver key social messages.

  • Loop PNG Oct 17, 2018

    Outstanding turn up at PNG's film festival.

    Over five hundred people attended the four-day 9th annual PNG Human Rights Film Festival in Port Moresby from Thursday, 11 October until Sunday, 14 October, at the Moresby Arts Theatre. 

    The Public flooded the Festival for the opening night film Power Meri, a documentary on the PNG Orchids journey to the 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup.

  • The Guardian - Alex McKinnon Oct 13, 2018

    Women's rugby league helping tackle domestic violence in PNG.

    In a country where the sport is omnipresent, it has become an unlikely driver of gender equality and women’s rights.

  • Radio NZ Oct 10, 2018

    Power Meri: PNG women's rugby league team on film.

    It's hoped a new documentary on the journey of the Papua New Guinea women's rugby league team to the 2017 World Cup will help change attitudes to women.

  • Loop PNG - Carmella Gware Oct 8, 2018

    A powerful and inspiring film Power Meri follows the journey of the PNG Orchids from inception to the world stage. Through the voices of pioneering players from the inaugural 2017 squad, viewers will get an in-depth look at these women's humble beginning, their passion in the game of rugby league and challenges faced as female athletes in a male-dominated sport.

  • Post-Courier PNG Oct 5, 2018

    A new rugby league documentary film that follows the journey of the PNG Orchids inception to the world stage will premiere at the PNG Human Rights Film Festival this month, before being released at Paradise Cinema in Port Moresby and screened in communities across the country.

  • The Sydney Morning Herald - Malcolm Knox Oct 4, 2018

    Game changer: Paving the way for PNG women on and off field.

    The women’s game in PNG is not entirely new. Filmmaker Joanna Lester’s new documentary Power Meri (‘Powerful Women’) charts the rise of the Orchids and the origins of PNG women’s rugby league. ‘‘There was a six-team league in Port Moresby in 1976, but it ended,’’ says Lester, who interviewed some of the women who played, ‘‘because of mixed opinions about how appropriate it was for women to be playing rugby league.’’

  • QRL - Robert Burgin Sep 2, 2018

    'League has a power to give every woman a voice'

    "This is more than just a game."

    That was the clear message from Queensland and Papua New Guinea rugby league star Amelia Kuk after the premiere screening of a documentary in which she plays a starring role.

    Power Meri is a confrontingly emotive film which documents the remarkable journey of PNG's first female rugby league side, the Orchids, in the face of sexism, poverty, doubters and their own personal demons.

  • Roar - Mary Konstantopoulos Aug 30, 2018

    Some of you may remember the Papua New Guinea Orchids who came to Australia to participate in the Women’s Rugby League World Cup last November.

    In the lead up to and during the Rugby League World Cup, the journey of this phenomenal group of women was filmed with the intention of turning the footage into a film.