Good post. Within the context of the South Pacific, it is important to note that the churches remain as important – if not more important – than the state in service delivery. In Solomon Islands, for example, most schooling is church funded.
The majority of Pacific islanders today are thankful of the role of the churches in shaping their societies, particularly for ending certain cultural niceties such as cannibalism and widow burial.
Interestingly, missionaries were very influential in shaping European colonial interest in the region. In the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), the primary reason that Britain challenged French dominion over the archipelago – resulting in a Condominium structure of governance – was the influence of the Presbyterian Church in Victoria, Australia over British decision makers. The Presbyterians were fearful of being ejected from the New Hebrides and replaced by Catholic counterparts.