Playboy Model Upsets Maori Community With Naked Photo On Sacred Mountain

The image has been criticised for being "culturally insensitive"

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A model who climbed up a mountain in New Zealand and then stripped off to pose for a photo has angered the Maori community, who have described her behaviour as "very inappropriate".

Jaylene Cook, a 25-year-old Playboy model, caused upset when she shared a picture taken by her partner near the 2,518m peak of Mount Taranaki on Instagram. It shows her gazing out over the clouds wearing nothing but a hat, gloves and trainers and within four days of posting, the striking image had received over 10,000 likes.

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The mountain, which is an active volcano, is sacred for Maori and according to a spokesperson for the local 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," Dennis Ngawhare 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?"

The New Zealand Department of Conservation states that Mount Taranaki has "great spiritual significance" and even climbing to the very top is said to be bad form.

"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 government website states.

He spoils me every day! @thejoshshaw - you are amazing ☺️⛵️🌅❤️👑🔒💞💋💍

A post shared by Jaylene Cook (@jaylenecook_) on

Following the backlash, with comments on Instagram describing the naked stunt as "arrogant and ignorant," Cook has been quick to defend her actions.

"[The photo] is not crude or explicit in any way," she 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."

Mr Ngaware says Cook's photo highlights a "clash between Western assumptions and indigenous values and beliefs," but it doesn't sound like the model is in a hurry to make another 12.6 km trek anytime soon.

"This climb has forever changed me," she wrote alongside her Instagram post. "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."