The Playboy model who sparked outrage among the Maori community for sharing a photo of herself naked on a sacred mountain in New Zealand has now claimed Maori people are not “indigenous”.
Jaylene Cook, a 25-year-old glamour model from New Zealand, received fierce criticism for sharing a photo of herself wearing nothing but gloves, trainers and a hat at the apex of Mount Taranaki after hiking up the mountain.
Mount Taranaki, an active volcano on the west coast of the North Island, has long been considered sacred in Maori culture. As such, Maori academics accused Ms Cook of cultural insensitivity and disrespect for sharing the photo on Instagram.
The Playboy playmate has now stoked further controversy for arguing Maori people are not indigenous. The Maori people are the native Polynesian people of New Zealand and originated with settlers who came to New Zealand in a series of canoe journeys between 1250 and 1300 CE.
"Hey Jaylene, would you do a nude photo shoot at a church or a war memorial, or do you only like to disrespect Indigenous sacred sites? Hope your five minutes of fame was worth the curses that will haunt you for life," wrote Instagram user Maori Mermaid in comments now deleted but reported by the New Zealand Herald.
"Lol. Get a clue before you jump on the bandwagon. Maori are NOT Indigenous you ignorant twat," Ms Cook reportedly replied.
After the initial furore erupted, Ms Cook said both she and her boyfriend, Josh Shaw, who hiked up the mountain with her and took the photo, were "surprised" by the angry response they recieved. She argued they had done their research before undertaking the trip but confessed that she had not informed locals she was planning to go nude.
"It was something that just happened. There was nowhere that we read, or were told that it was a bad thing to do - and we believe that it still wasn't. We see nudity as art and natural," she said. “I’m sorry that people felt that we were being disrespectful, that was never our intention whatsoever”.
When pressed about whether she would have refrained from taking the photo if she had been aware of the backlash it would cause, she said: “No because it doesn’t change my beliefs and my feelings towards the photograph. We have had overwhelming support from local Maori”.
The folklore linked to the mountain means many members of the Maori community have never climbed Taranaki out of respect.
The New Zealand government’s website says: “Mount Taranaki has great spiritual significance to local Maori.
"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… Respect the mountain.”
The mountain has a summit of 8,300 feet but visitors are advised to pay respect and to avoid the rock at the top.
Ms Cook, who has 398 thousand Instagram followers, posted the picture which has now received almost 28 thousand likes with the accompanying caption: “This climb has forever changed me. I proved just how far I could push myself and I am truly proud of my accomplishment. This mountain was steep, rugged, ever-changing and just pure brutal! Safe to say, I will never do it again.”Reuse content