25-year-old Playboy model Jaylene Cook has upset the Maori community in New Zealand by climbing to the peak of Mount Taranaki and stripping down for a naked photo.
With the help of her partner, Cook made her way up to the 2,518-meter peak of the sacred mountain (which also happens to be an active volcano) and posed above the clouds wearing nothing but a hat, gloves and trainers. The image in question has amassed well over 10,000 likes since it was first posted four days ago, although opinions have shifted in light of the photo’s implications.
WE DID IT!! This was BY FAR the hardest thing I have ever done! Both mentally and physically. 2 minutes out of the car park I was already hurting, sweating and ready to turn back 😂 But it's amazing what you can accomplish with the encouragement and support of your partner! I could not have done this without you babe @thejoshshaw! • 🏔 Mount Taranaki Summit 🔭 9000ft ❄️ -11'C/35km winds 🏃🏻♀️ 12.6km (1.6km elevation) ⏰ 2am – 6.30pm (12hr hike time) • This climb has forever changed me. I proved just how far I could push myself and I am truely proud of my accomplishment. This mountain was steep, rugged, ever changing and just pure brutal! Safe to say, I will never do it again 😅
According to Dennis Ngawhare, a spokesperson for the local Maori tribe, the photo disrespects their special place. “It’s like someone went into St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and took a nude photo,” he told the BBC. “It’s a sacred place and something like this is just very inappropriate. People might say it’s just rocks and earth so how can you disrespect it?”
Not only is the nudity on such a sacred site viewed as crude by the local community, but even the mere act of climbing to the summit is seen as disrespectful. “The crater and summit is the sacred head of Taranaki, the rocks and ridge are his bones, rivers his blood and plants and trees are his cloak and offer protection from the weather,” the government website states, “respect the mountain,”
“[The photo] is not crude or explicit in any way,” Cook stated in defense of her actions, “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.”
Nagwhare states that this is a typical “clash between Western assumptions and indigenous values and beliefs,” and while the community still isn’t happy about Cook’s actions, they can rest easy knowing it’s a feat she’s not likely to repeat.