Hawaii is a beautiful vacation destination for Americans and foreigners alike. The history of the islands draws many, as well as the stunning beaches and the natural beauty of much of the island chain. Many have chosen to make their life in Hawaii, but one person’s announcement is causing quite a stir among locals.

Zuckerberg: The CEO of Meta

Mark Zuckerberg is the 39-year-old founder of Facebook, and the current CEO of Meta, Facebook’s parent company. He is one of the United States’ younger billionaires, and has made headlines in the past for the way that he spends his money and runs his company.

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Zuckerberg’s most recent purchase and headline-inducing activity is a little more delicate, and a little more controversial than some of his actions in the past. It involves the state of Hawaii, and more specifically the island of Kauai.

Hawaii and the United States are Complicated

Hawaii and the United States have a complicated relationship. Hawaii was the fiftieth and most recent state admitted to the Union, which took place in 1959. Hawaii is the only state in the union that is outside of North America, and consists of more than 100 islands in the tropics.

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Hawaii has a long history that started hundreds of years before American settlers came to the islands. It was settled by Polynesians sometime between 1000 and 1200 CE, and at the time was home to a number of independent chiefdoms.

Hawaii was Independent, Until Europeans Arrived

European influence wasn’t introduced to Hawaii until the eighteenth century, when British explorer James Cook became the first known non-islander to arrive on the islands. While Cook was the first European to find his way to the islands, he was far from the last.

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A series of European and American visitors alike began to make their way to Hawaii after that initial introduction. Predictably, this led to the decimation of the local indigenous population due to the introduction of diseases such as syphilis, tuberculosis, smallpox, and measles.

Weakened, Hawaii was Able to be Absorbed

By 1890, the native Hawaiian population had been drastically altered from somewhere between 300,000 and one million, to less than 40,000 individuals. At the time, Hawaii was considered a unified, internationally recognized kingdom, which remained independent until American and Europeans alike overthrew the monarchy of the islands in 1893.

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This led to the annexation of Hawaii by the United States in 1898. Hawaii remained an important and strategic United States territory, which is part of the reasoning behind the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, which prompted the United States to finally enter the second World War.

The United States Admits Fault

Much of the relationship between the United States and the island of Hawaii has been riddled with conflict and outright colonialism. After Hawaii became a state in 1959, it took decades before the United States finally admitted to its role in decimating the native Hawaiian population and monarchy.

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In 1993, the United States government formally apologized to the remaining native population of Hawaii for its role in overthrowing Hawaii’s original government. This admittance, along with the history itself, gassed the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and has led to ongoing efforts on the parts of the Hawaiian natives to redress the wrongs done to their people.

Hawaii is Deeply Important

Despite the difficult history between the island state and the United States government, Hawaii remains an important and major agricultural exporter to this day. Its fertile soil and tropical climate mean that Hawaiian farms and plantations can provide for a greater range of fruits and produce than other areas, at a fraction of the import cost.

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The economy of Hawaii has gradually diversified over the years, with tourism and military defense becoming two of its largest sectors. The former draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the various islands of Hawaii every single year, and the latter sees Hawaii as the host of the United States Pacific Fleet.

The United States as a Colonial Occupation

The Hawaiian people have a particular affinity for the land of the islands, and with good reason. There are many who believe that the original overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy was an illegal act, and that the subsequent annexation of the state by the United States government was a further act of foreign aggression.

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Because of these beliefs, over the years there have been many clashes between native Hawaiian peoples, and those who seek to develop the land or build on it in order to achieve profit. Much of the land of the islands is sacred to the Hawaiian people, which can be seen in the vehement protests that are held anytime nature is infringed on in the islands.

A Billionaire Steps In

The clashes between developers and native Hawaiians have been going on for years, but a very recent development has been making headlines, and not necessarily for the reason that you might think. It doesn’t involve a business wanting profit off the land of Hawaii, but it does involve Mark Zuckerberg, self-made billionaire.

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Zuckerberg has made recent headlines for using some of his massive fortune to purchase approximately 1400 acres of land on the island of Kauai. He is currently in the midst of a top-secret project on the property, the details of which are slowly being leaked as the project continues.

A Massive Wall Blocking Looky-Loos

The first detail that stands out about the ongoing project is the massive, 6-foot wall that surrounds the property. The wall blocks the view of a nearby frontage road, where cars have been known to slow down in order to try and get a glimpse at the private land and what’s going on inside of it.

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That would be an odd enough sight on the island of Kauai alone, but what makes it even stranger is the array of guards that man the wall, ensuring that visitors don’t come near the property. The sight is something out of a post-apocalyptic movie, and that’s only the beginning.

Zuckerberg and the NDA’s

Zuckerberg is taking the security of his “compound” seriously. Everyone who comes to work on the compound, no matter how insignificant the role, has to sign an iron-clad NDA in order to be employed. These NDA’s aren’t just lip service, either.

Source: Phil Jung

Several current and former employees of Zuckerberg and the compound have reported – anonymously – the consequences of violating the NDA. One such individual stated that he was fired from the project merely for taking a picture of his work on Snapchat, and that is but one story of Zuckerberg’s paranoia.

Teams Can’t Speak With Each Other

Not only are employees forbidden from discussing their work on the compound on social media or outside of the compound, but they’re also forbidden from discussing the details of the project across teams. A project this big necessitates different teams for various aspects of construction, and these teams have been banned from discussing details of their specific projects outside of their direct coworkers.

Source: Phil Jung

One former contractor went so far as to compare the compound with Fight Club, quoting the famous like, “It’s Fight Club. We don’t talk about fight club.” And the project is so large that a significant portion of the island population are employed by the Zuckerberg compound in one way or the other.

The Property is Absolutely Enormous

Not only is the current, ongoing construction of the compound shrouded in secrecy, but he planning of the compound is evidently top-secret as well. While nobody can formally report on what is being built inside the six-foot walls of the compound, documentation and construction permits have revealed some details about what the compound will entail.

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Evidently the compound, which will be called Koolau Ranch, will consist of two enormous mansions with approximately 30 bedrooms and 30 bathrooms total, with at least 10 other buildings aside. The project is, in conjunction with land costs, estimated to ultimately cost upwards of $270 million.

Tunnels and Rope Bridges Connect It All

The main mansions of the Zuckerberg compound will allegedly be connected with tunnels, and above ground, there are more than a dozen treehouses that will be connected with rope bridges. These two features will allow potential visitors of the compound to be able to get around without ever having to walk on the physical ground.

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Some of the features of the other buildings include a massive building that will contain such amenities as a full-sized gym, pools, sauna, hot tub, and tennis court. There will also be guest houses and myriad other buildings aside, suggesting that the compound will ultimately be used for far more than a mere vacation home for Zuckerberg.

A Self-Sustaining Property

The plans for the compound also suggest that the facility will be fully self-sustaining. The compound has a huge water tank installed, as well as a private pump system that waters the property.

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More than that, the compound produces a significant portion of its own food. The 1400 acres of the property are across fertile agricultural land, meaning that the compound could theoretically feed itself only through the food that is farmed and agriculturally gathered on the property.

It Also Has An Underground Bunker

All of that is odd, though Zuckerberg isn’t known for being the most normal person by those who have met him. But the most interesting piece of the compound isn’t any of the self-sustaining structures or the fact that it could feasibly feature as a corporate retreat for Zuckerberg and Meta.

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No, the most fascinating part of the compound is the underground structure that plans reveal has been built under the two mansions that make up the living area of the property. The structure is evidently 5000 square feet and features a living space, mechanical room, escape hatch, and security cameras everywhere.

Zuckerberg Hasn’t Spoken On It

The information about the underground bunker combined with the data about the sustainability of the compound has led some to believe that Zuckerberg is creating a doomsday bunker for himself and whomever he deems worthy of inviting.

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Zuckerberg himself hasn’t commented on the viability of that particular theory, but that is unsurprisingly. Despite the fact that investigations have been launched and information about the compound has been leaked in the years since it’s been under construction, Zuckerberg himself has remained notoriously tight-lipped about it all.

Native Land Purchased By a White Man

The compound has fallen under heavy scrutiny by many, not only because of the secrecy regarding the build but also because of how it came about. The land on Kauai has been for sale for many years, but many locals and native Hawaiians were unable to touch the price.

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This has led many to see Zuckerberg as another example of a white settler coming in and trampling all over native Hawaiian land. While a spokesperson on behalf of Zuckerberg has denied any claims of wrongdoing, there may be some merit to the idea of Zuckerberg engaging in shady dealings in Hawaii.

Trying to Circumvent Tribal Law

Zuckerberg owns the property through approximately 10 shell corporations who purchased the land on his behalf, and he has allegedly engaged in some shady dealings through one of these shell corporations.

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In winter of 2016, Zuckerberg – through his shell corporation – filed litigation that was intended to pressure some local owners of kuleana rights into selling to him. Hawaii has a law that allows for the passing of land to ancestral descendants without formal paperwork, which meant that there were hundreds of parcels of land on the Zuckerberg compound that he was not able to own by Hawaiian law.

Zuckerberg Quietly Buying Land Rights

The lawsuit that Zuckerberg filed allowed for the owners of the land to either sell the rights of the land to him, or to bid for it at auction. When the lawsuit came out, it triggered intense backlash against Zuckerberg and the compound itself, so he quietly withdrew the lawsuit, instead working with a kuleana descendant with the largest share of the land rights to purchase the land another way.

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This continued until June of 2019, when four remaining parcels of land were put up for auction. This pitted Carlos Andrade, a retired University professor, against individuals who chose not to sell their land. He bid $2.14 million, and ultimately won the very competitive auction for the land.

Shady Funding

Many who were involved in that auction and the other proceedings regarding the land rights believe that Andrade was bankrolled by Zuckerberg, though there’s no formal proof of it. The auction is just one example of Zuckerberg’s potentially shady dealings in Kauai.

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This doesn’t even touch the various philanthropic endeavors that Zuckerberg has engaged in during his time on the island, which many believe have been done in order to grease the right wheels with the Hawaiian government. A hostile local government can severely delay and even cancel construction projects such as Zuckerberg’s, and many believe that the thousands and millions of dollars that he has donated to various charities and projects have been in order to preserve the “integrity” of his construction project.

The Compound is an Ongoing Project

The Zuckerberg compound is still being built, and if the rumors of the vast scope of the project are true, it will be under construction for many years to come. The press surrounding the project throws into question Zuckerberg’s motivation and some of the legality regarding the project, but nothing has been done about it on behalf of any government, yet.

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Whether the project will be halted in the future based on the protests of the local Hawaiians remains to be seen. People like Zuckerberg have endless funds to deal with lawsuits and construction delays when it comes to projects like this, so for the time being, it appears that the Zuckerberg occupation of Kauai is here to stay.