Woman Sparks Outrage With Salacious Photo On Sacred Mountain

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A woman sparked outrage after she posed for a “salacious” photo on top of a mountain that is considered “sacred.” Her snapshot was considered to be so indecent that she was “cursed for life.”

Jaylene Cook
Jaylene Cook (Credit: Instagram)

When an Instagram model went on vacation to New Zealand, she got into trouble after posing for a naked shot on top of what the Maori people regard to be a sacred mountain. Jaylene Cook chose to undress for the shot in order to feel “freedom and empowerment” after a 12-hour walk to the summit of Mount Taranaki.

“This was BY FAR the hardest thing I have ever done! Both mentally and physically,” Cook wrote when she posted the image to Instagram. “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!”

Locals, however, felt the naked photograph was culturally disrespectful to Maori culture because the peak of the volcano is regarded as sacred. Maori academic Dennis Ngawhare told Stuff, “I’d imagine you will be getting a few comments from people saying, ‘What’s wrong with that? Who cares?’ But I also know cousins and relatives who will be quite upset about it. They would consider it as being disrespectful towards the mountain.”

Jaylene Cook is from New Zealand, and she and her traveling companion, her boyfriend Josh Shaw, stated they did research before ascending to the top and did not stand on the mountain’s crest. “[The photo’s] not crude or explicit in any way,” she said. “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.”

Dennis Ngawhare didn’t agree with Jaylene Cook’s take on her controversial photo. He had been reading about similar things happening in places like Malaysia. “People are taking naked photos and the locals over there get quite upset about it,” he explained. “They consider it as being disrespectful to a sacred place.”

Ngawhare’s family has never climbed to the summit because they regard the mountain as their tupuna, an ancestor. “I accept people climb up to the summit,” he said. “But what we do ask is that people be respectful. It’s the same as when that crew took up a barbecue and a trampoline. It’s a good idea in principle, but in action…”

The controversy continued on social media when one Instagram user commented, “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 mins of fame was worth the curses that will haunt you for life.” The glamour model lashed out, telling fans, “Get a clue before you jump on the bandwagon. Maori are NOT indigenous, you ignorant t**t.”

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom explained why the photo rubbed the Maori people the wrong way, as the mountain is viewed as their family member. “They should ask themselves how they would feel if someone took a photo of themselves naked, on the grave of a great-grandparent,” he explained.

“Tangata whenua (Maori people) are not wanting to be the ‘fun police’ however Mr. Ngawhare was right when commenting that people should show a little respect,” the mayor added. “And when inviting people to our region we will be working to educate them about our unique history, amazing natural environment, rich culture and asking those who visit this place to show a little respect when visiting the Lifestyle Capital of New Zealand.”

In 2015, tourists who took photos of themselves naked on top of another sacred mountain in New Zealand were also blamed for an earthquake in the area which killed at least 16 people. “It is a sacred mountain and you cannot take it lightly,” one New Zealand official said in a press conference at the time. “Whether other people believe this or not, it’s what we believe. When the earthquake happened, it was like a confirmation of our beliefs.”