Mark Zuckerberg’s Oceanfront Kauaʻi Estate
Welcome back to Insider Weekly! I’m Matt Turner, the editor-in-chief of business at Insider.
You might know a little about Mark Zuckerberg’s Hawaiʻi estate thanks to the videos the Facebook cofounder has posted of himself shooting arrows and throwing spears there. Or maybe you remember the famous sunscreen-clad hydrofoil surfing session nearby.
But as Tyler Sonnemaker reported this week, there’s more to the story of Zuckerberg’s nearly 1,400-acre Kauaʻi estate than your typical tropical billionaire playground.
In a visually stunning project showcasing the natural beauty that drew Zuckerberg to the island, Tyler’s story explains how Zuckerberg’s estate there reflects a broader story of the dispossession of Native Hawaiians. Read on for a Q&A with Tyler, and to check out the project, complete with drone footage, illustrations, maps, and audio pronunciations of Hawaiian phrases.
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Reporter Tyler Sonnemaker takes us behind the scenes of his deep dive into the clash over Mark Zuckerberg’s Koʻolau Ranch.
What prompted you to look into the controversy over Mark Zuckerberg’s Kauaʻi estate?
I knew that Zuckerberg filed these controversial lawsuits a few years back. But as a newcomer to Hawaiʻi myself, I had been learning about this devastating history of how Native Hawaiians got kicked off their land.
So when Zuckerberg bought more land in March, I was curious how it ended up in his hands. After stumbling into this rabbit hole, I discovered that every single of one of his properties reflected a different way in which Hawaiians were dispossessed.
What should readers take away from your reporting?
We have a lot to learn about how to share and take care of the limited land we have, and Indigenous peoples who know the land so intimately have a lot to teach us.
As the world becomes hotter and more crowded, I hope people continue to hold these new land barons accountable for how they use this precious resource — whether Bill Gates in Washington, Elon Musk in Texas, or Larry Ellison, Steve Case, and Zuckerberg in Hawaiʻi.
This is a visually stunning, in-depth, multimedia piece of journalism. What went into producing this?
Our graphics team custom-built beautiful and engaging visual elements, a bunch of editors helped me wrangle all this information into a compelling narrative, and multiple freelancers helped us capture video, record audio, and ensure we accurately portrayed Hawaiian history and culture.
Also, the dozens of Hawaiians and Hawaiian experts — Zuckerberg’s neighbors, legal experts, local farmers, and others — who shared their time and knowledge really helped inform this story.
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