In April 2006, rioting broke out in Honiara, Solomon Islands, following the parliamentary election of Snyder Rini. Occurring almost three years after the commencement of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), the riots sparked intense deliberations about the nature of Australia's engagement with Solomon Islands and the success, or otherwise, of RAMSI. Within the context of discussions about state-building in Melanesia, this article seeks to outline challenges to the success of RAMSI. Ultimately, we argue that successful state-building in Melanesia is highly dependent upon awareness of local conditions, rather than simply the application of international best practice. Moreover, we suggest that unless the current approach is modified to accommodate local circumstances - including social and political structures and locally defined needs and desires - the existing growth of anti-RAMSI sentiment will continue to escalate. In conclusion, we offer policy-relevant suggestions aimed at assisting mission stakeholders to improve RAMSI's viability and impact.