The Facebook founder and his partner, who are currently worth $117 billion, nearly doubled their Hawaiian island holdings.
They already own a 700-acre chunk of Kauai island, the fourth largest of Hawaii’s eight main islands, and home to 67,000 people. Zuckerberg began purchasing land there in September 2014.
On March 19, Pacific Business News announced that the couple paid $53 million for three more plots totaling 595.4 acres.
It was bought from the Waioli Corporation, a non-profit organization that managed federal and state historical sites throughout the island.
The Waioli traced their ancestors back to the Wilcox family, who were descended from Hawaiian missionaries.
In an announcement to the business journal, the couple said they were “mindful” of the perseverance work of the nonprofit group. According to its website, Waioli “authentically [preserves] numerous historic sites and collections around the island.”
In 2017, Zuckerberg filed a lawsuit against native Hawaiians who proudly own tiny plots of land surrounded by his land, urging them to sell their land at public auction so he could “enhance” his privacy.
Local Hawaiians’ ancestral land was known as “kuleana land.” To help native Hawaiians keep their ground, the state of Hawaii provided a property tax exemption. According to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, “On Kauaʻi, kuleana landowners may be eligible for a flat $150 tax.”
The tech CEO subsequently dropped the lawsuit but was accused in 2019 of continuing to sue on his behalf through a local resident, Carlos Andrade.
A Change.org campaign was attempting to prevent Mark Zukerberg from purchasing additional land in Hawaii.
As of Saturday, May 1, the online petition urging Zuckerberg to avoid “colonizing” Hawaii had surpassed 1 million signatures.
“Mark Zuckerberg is the sixth richest man in the world … and he is suing Native Hawaiians in Kauai for their land so he can build a mansion. He’s building a mansion to do what? Live in Kauai for two months out of the year? This is inhuman,” as seen written on the petition site.
University of Hawaii law professor Kapua Sproat said that Zuckerberg’s movement was the face of neocolonialism in an interview with the Guardian.
“Even though a forced sale may not physically displace people, it’s the last nail in the coffin of separating us from the land,” he added.
Sam Pratt, the president of Waioli Corporation, said the decision was made “after much consideration and careful deliberation” in a statement sent to SFgate.com.
“The decision provides Waioli with the financial ability to be able to continue our critical conservation and historical work and ensure that Kauai’s cultural history continues to be shared in the community for years to come,” he wrote.
“We have seen Mark and Priscilla’s dedication over the years to land conservation, protecting native species and working to preserve the natural beauty of Kauai. We know that this land will remain in their trusted hands and that Mark and Priscilla will act as responsible stewards of Lepeuli today and in the future,” Pratt said in the statement.