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Old 25-03-19, 18:10   #1
 
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Hot Native Hawaiians Battle Zuckerberg Over Hawaiian Estate

'A Family Against a Billionaire': Twist in Battle Over Zuckerberg's Hawaiian Estate

Parcels near Facebook CEO’s property auctioned off amid lengthy fight over Native Hawaiian land rights

25 MAR 2019


HONOLULU ― Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is making a lot of noise on the quiet Hawaiian island of Kauai after word got out that lawsuits he filed last month to secure his beachfront estate could force Hawaii residents to sell their inherited land.

Zuckerberg’s 700-acre property, which the billionaire purchased for more than $100 million in 2014, contains almost a dozen smaller parcels known as “kuleana” lands, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Local families hold rights to these lands under The Kuleana Act of 1850 and can legally enter Zuckerberg’s estate to reach their parcels.

To keep his new property private, three of Zuckerberg’s Hawaii-based companies filed eight lawsuits, called “quiet title and partition” actions, on Dec. 30 against hundreds of people, living and dead, who have partial rights to kuleana lands on the estate, according to court records.

A quiet title claim is a common way of establishing real estate ownership, and ultimately may lead to a judge ordering the land sold at auction, the Star-Advertiser reported.

Defendants listed on the complaint were given 20 days to respond once they are served with a copy. Anyone who does not respond or chooses not to participate forfeits the right to contest the proceedings.






The island of Kauai is known as the Garden Isle because of the thriving nature on its largely undeveloped land...


Amid angry shouts of “hewa!” (wrong!) and “illegal sales”, four parcels of land surrounded by the 700-acre estate of the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, were auctioned Friday on the island of Kauai.

But in a surprise twist, the bidder backed by Zuckerberg won only three of the parcels, while a rival group prevailed on the fourth.

In a contentious transaction, attorneys bid on behalf of their clients. On one side was a group led by several members of the holdout Rapozo family; on the other was the retired Hawaiian studies professor Carlos Andrade, a relative of the Rapozos said to have the financial backing of Zuckerberg.


A commissioner read parcel numbers as the attorneys quietly called their bids until all four parcels were sold: parcels 19, 25, and 26 went for $300,000, $460,000, and $300,000 to Andrade.

But parcel 17 was bought for $700,000 by the Rapozos. Andrade and the self-described “holdout” Rapozos are descendants of Manuel Rapozo, a Portuguese citizen who emigrated from the Azores to Hawaii in 1882.


“A family against a billionaire. That’s what this is. It’s one family against a billionaire. Having to bid for our own property!” shouted one of the land owners, Alika Guerrero, dressed in a black T-shirt reading “Culture, Heritage, Ohana (family)”.

The four land parcels, called kuleana in Hawaiian, range from 5,200 sq ft to 1.59 acres and are entirely surrounded by Zuckerberg’s property. They were ordered to be auctioned by fifth circuit judge Kathleen Watanabe in an attempt to resolve a dispute that has pitted relatives and neighbors against one other.

Even before the midday auction, family and community members protested outside the courthouse, holding Hawaiian flags, ceremonial ti plant leaves, and handmade signs bearing slogans like “Mark you Zuck!” and “Study kuleana, Zuckerberg!”

Angry members of the Rapozos marked Zuckerberg as absent, even as he was being schooled in the complex world of traditional Hawaiian land ownership.

Andrade did not attend the auction or respond to earlier requests for comment, but he did make his case for quiet title in an op-ed column today in Kauai’s Garden Island newspaper.

Andrade maintains he alone cleared, surveyed, and maintained the parcels, planted crops, paid taxes, and built a dwelling on the remote, undeveloped land.

Cecilia Rapozo Inanod, Andrade’s cousin, long thought he had been a good steward of the land, but had shut out other family members, even changing locks on gates to keep people away. “As a university professor of Hawaiian studies, he should be worried about putting Hawaiians on the land, not selling it to billionaires,” she said.

For his part, Zuckerberg has not engaged directly with neighbors on his adopted island home in the Pacific, where the largely undeveloped estate sprawls along a high bluff with sweeping views of the central Pacific.

The auction stems from what had previously been an obscure Hawaiian law called the Kuleana Act of 1850, that granted plots of land to Native Hawaiians and other residents.

But the relatively little-known quiet title gained notoriety in late 2016 after Andrade threatened to take his relatives to court to gain ownership.

Zuckerberg’s involvement with Andrade sparked accusations that the Facebook CEO was a neocolonial settler on an island with a long history of overthrow, occupation, displacement and marginalization of Kanaka Maoli – Native Hawaiians – by foreigners.

In 2017, pushback in the community led Zuckerberg to write a guest column in the local newspaper explaining that he was abandoning his quiet title actions and would “work together with the community on a new approach”.

The tech mogul, with an estimated fortune of $65bn, once again found himself issuing a public apology.

But the quiet title was carried on by Andrade with suspected support from Northshore Kalo, a front company for Zuckerberg.

This week the Garden Island published accounts of new claims that “deceitful, high-pressure sales tactics” had been used against kuleana owners in a bid to coerce them to sell their land.

Oahu resident Healani Sonoda-Pale, who owns kuleana land on Molokai, flew to Kauai to support the Rapozo family and described the disputed land parcels as mele inoa – the “song of our name”. She is also monitoring four separate bills related to quiet title as they move through Hawaii’s state legislature which, she said, is a positive step.

“Unfortunately, you have to take somebody like Zuckerberg to come here and start doing this,” said Sonoda-Pale, adding: “It’s very complex, our land systems here, so if you’re going to come here to Hawaii, please do your research and actually have respect for the people here,” she said.

Speaking outside the courthouse, Guerrero, the kuleana owner who lives on Maui, said he wants to raise awareness of what he called the “abusive use” of quiet title law to inspiring other families in Hawaii to avoid situations in which one relative sues other family members for the sale of the property.

Before the bidding began, Guerrero said that no matter what happened today, “to me, we’ve won in the sense that we’ve [raised awareness] to anybody that you cannot come to Hawaii, find one of our relatives, convince them to sue the rest of the family, and get away with it.”

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Old 08-06-19, 23:15   #2
 
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Update Re: Native Hawaiians Battle Zuckerberg Over Hawaiian Estate

Zuckerberg's Hawaii estate: Battle's Latest Turn 'Devastates' Local Family

After the Rapozo family blocked their billionaire-backed cousin from buying land, the tables have suddenly turned

The Guardian UK, 7 JUNE 2019.


UPDATE:

The latest twist in the saga of Mark Zuckerberg’s Hawaii estate has left a family decrying the power of the Facebook billionaire to separate them from their ancestral lands.









The public Pilaa Beach, below hillside and ridgetop land owned by the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, near Kilauea on the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii. Photograph: Ron Kosen/AP



In March, the family members were able to block their distant cousin from buying one of four small parcels of land up for auction on the island of Kauai. The outcome was shocking because that distant cousin, retired professor Carlos Andrade, had the backing of Zuckerberg, whose 700-acre estate fully surrounds the disputed parcels.

But on Tuesday, the rules of the universe reasserted themselves. At a court hearing to finalize the outcome of the March auction, Andrade was able to reopen the bidding and win the title to all four of the parcels for a total of $2,145,000.

“The family is devastated,” said Wayne Rapozo, the leader of the group of relatives who were trying to outbid their billionaire-backed cousin, in an email to the Guardian. Rapozo described the bidding process as “a front for fraud and deceit against the Rapozo family” and said that the case “violates fairly basic notions of justice in Hawaii and the United States”.

The final outcome more than doubles the amount that Andrade appeared able to pay in March, when he bid a total of $1,060,000 for three of the parcels, and failed to outbid Rapozo’s offer of $700,000 for the fourth. Details of Tuesday’s bidding were reported in the Garden Island newspaper.

The dispute between Andrade, Rapozo and Zuckerberg has its roots in Hawaii’s complicated history of land ownership. The four parcels, known as kuleana, were purchased by a Portuguese immigrant, Manuel Rapozo, in 1882, and passed on to his seven children when he died intestate in 1928.

By the time Zuckerberg purchased the surrounding acres in 2014, the title to the four parcels was divided between hundreds of descendants. Among them was Andrade, who claims to be the only family member to have ever lived on or cared for the parcels – a claim other family members dispute.

Zuckerberg filed a series of lawsuits in 2016 in an attempt to find all the claimants to kuleana inside his estate and buy out their shares, ensuring his privacy. Following intense local and international backlash to the suits, which were viewed by many Hawaiians as consistent with a long history of colonialism and dispossession, Zuckerberg dropped the lawsuits but said he would support Andrade’s continuing efforts to gain control over the four Rapozo family parcels.

Those efforts culminated with the public auction and Tuesday’s hearing. Litigation will continue, however, as Rapozo and another of the family “holdouts” have filed a separate claim alleging that Andrade’s alleged cooperation with Zuckerberg was improper.

“Unexplained wealth or purchase habits grossly different from normal means and habits usually raise money laundering and foul play issues,” said Rapozo, who grew up on Kauai and now lives and works in London as a corporate attorney. “In the UK, I would not be able to take on a client seeking to purchase a property or business in excess of a rational review of their wealth or earning history.”

Representatives for Andrade and Zuckerberg did not immediately respond to queries from the Guardian asking whether Zuckerberg or his affiliated companies had been the source of funds for Andrade’s bids.

Added Rapozo: “I want our kupuna [elders] to know their legacies matter and I want the Rapozo children to know that there is nobility in a principled defense even if painful and overwhelming.”
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