Playboy Model's Nude Photo On Sacred Mountain Angers The Maori People

A Playboy model has angered a local Maori tribe by sharing a nude photo of herself at the top of a sacred mountain in New Zealand.
Jaylene Cook, 25, who has nearly 300,000 Instagram followers, posted the photo from Mount Taranaki a few days ago and has since been criticised by local Maori.
Cook, herself from New Zealand, was hiking with her partner, photographer Josh Shaw, when she decided to strip down. The photo was apparently taken in minus 11 degrees Celsius and 35 km winds, and has amassed over 10,000 likes.
But the top of the volcano is sacred for local Maori, who believe it's where one of the tribe’s ancestors was buried, and they consider the mountain itself as an ancestor, reported stuff.co.nz. Even climbing to the top of the peak is frowned upon and rarely done, save for ceremonial purpose, reported the BBC.
Advertisement
"It's like someone went into St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican and took a nude photo," said Dennis Ngawhare, a spokesperson for the local Maori tribe. "It's a sacred place and something like this is just very inappropriate,” he told the BBC.
Addressing the criticism, Cook said the pair had researched the significance of the mountain before their trip and that she didn’t believe the image was offensive. Nudity, she said, is “natural and pure” and shouldn’t be considered disrespectful.
"[The photo's] not crude or explicit in any way,” Cook told stuff.co.nz. “We made ourselves knowledgeable on the history of the mountain. We were quite respectful. Being nude is not something that is offensive in any way. It's natural and pure and it's about freedom and empowerment."
The local Maori haven’t historically had much say over what happens on the mountain, which Captain Cook named Mount Egmont when the British colonised the country. "It's only recently that we can have some input on what goes on at the mountain," Ngawhare told the BBC.
"We simply ask people to please be respectful. This latest case is just another really annoying example where someone obviously didn't know how to behave here," he added, saying the incident highlighted "a clash between Western assumptions and indigenous values and beliefs."
Neil Volzke, mayor of the local Stratford district, agreed that Cook could have shown a greater awareness of the tribe's values. "I don't think the picture itself is offensive or obscene," he told the BBC. "It is just inappropriate to take on top of Mount Taranaki because it is a place with a great deal of importance for the Maori community."
The Maori have been offended in the past by a group of hikers taking a barbecue to the top of the peak and people leaving graffiti on the sacred mountain.
This is by no means the first time a naked photo taken from a mountain has been criticised as culturally insensitive. A group of Western tourists were jailed and fined in 2015 for posing on the sacred Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia.
Advertisement