Glamour model angers locals by posing for naked selfie on sacred Maori mountain

Jaylene Cook’s nude photo atop New Zealand’s Mount Taranaki has been labelled “disrespectful”

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 03 May 2017 14:09 BST
Jaylene Cook took a naked photo on a sacred volcano
Jaylene Cook took a naked photo on a sacred volcano (Josh Shaw)

A New Zealand glamour model’s naked snap at the top of Mount Taranaki has not gone down well with some of the locals.

Jaylene Cook, 25, shared a photo of herself on Instagram wearing nothing but gloves, trainers and a hat while at the summit, after hiking up the 2,308m mountain with her boyfriend Josh Shaw, 27.

Mount Taranaki, an active volcano located on the west coast of new Zealand’s North Island, is considered sacred in Maori culture. And while Cook’s nude picture garnered almost 10,000 likes on Instagram, the locals were less than impressed with the stunt.

According to Maori mythology, Taranaki once resided in the middle of the North Island with all the other New Zealand volcanoes. The beautiful Pihanga was coveted by all the mountains, and a great battle broke out between them. Tongariro emerged the victor and inflicted great wounds on the side of Taranaki, causing him to flee westwards, forming the deep gorges of the Whanganui River as he went. He paused for a while, creating the depression that formed the Te Ngaere swamp, before heading north. His progress was blocked by the Pouakai ranges and, as the sun came up, Taranaki became petrified in his current location. When Taranaki is covered by rainclouds, he is said to be crying for his lost love, and during spectacular sunsets he is said to be displaying himself to her.

This legend means that many members of the local Maori community have never climbed Taranaki out of respect.

“I'd imagine you will be getting a few comments from people saying what's wrong with that? Who cares?” Maori academic Dennis Ngawhare told of Cook’s graphic photo. “But I also know cousins and relatives who will be quite upset about it. They would consider it as being disrespectful towards the mountain.”

He added: “I accept people climb up to the summit, but what we do ask is that people be respectful.”

Cook defended her actions, arguing that her naked photo was "natural". She told "[The photo's] not crude or explicit in any way. We made ourselves knowledgeable on the history of the mountain. We were quite respectful. Being nude is not something that is offensive in anyway. It's natural and pure and it's about freedom and empowerment."

She told Daily Mail Australia: "It was an impulse to strip off and feel the cold air and embrace it a bit."

Cook posted the picture on Instagram 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.”

The Playboy playmate is the latest to jump on the “belfie” bandwagon – a trend where people flash their bottoms at tourist spots and take pictures. The practice has been made famous by Cheeky Exploits, an Instagram account that displays derriere shots, which boasts over 180,000 followers.

Cook is also not the first to offend with her actions abroad. Many celebrities have come under fire for not respecting local customs and culture, from Katie Price’s topless frolicking on a Maldives beach to Jennifer Lawrence’s use of sacred Hawaiian rocks to scratch her bottom while filming The Hunger Games.

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