Model Posed Nude Atop Sacred Mountain and Causes Controversy

“W E 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” is part of what Jaylene Cook — who is 25 years old, originally from New Zealand, and has modeled for Playboy magazine — posted at her Instagram account after having posed almost completely nude at the summit of Mount Taranaki in New Zealand in a photograph which was taken by Josh Shaw, who is her boyfriend.

Model Posed Nude Atop Sacred Mountain and Causes Controversy

Mount Taranaki

Source: The Instagram account of Jaylene Cook. Areas of her nude body which might be considered sensitive have been blurred out from the original photograph.

“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” is how she ended her comment.

Local Maori — who are the indigenous people of New Zealand – say the move was utterly insensitive and very inappropriate to their culture. The main reason is that the top of the mountain — which is also a volcano — is considered sacred to the Maori.

“It’s like someone went into St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and took a nude photo,” Dennis Ngawhare — who is a spokesperson for the local Maori tribe — said, according to this article written by Andreas Illmer for BBC News.

“…the volcano is considered the burial ground of the tribe’s ancestor and is itself seen as an ancestor”, the article further states. “Traditionally, even just climbing to the top of the peak is inappropriate and only very rarely done for ceremonial purpose.”

Mount Taranaki — which is also known as Mount Egmont, as named by captain James Cook back in the 18th century — is similar in appearance to Mount Fuji in Japan. It is located on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand; and its peak is measured at an elevation of 8,261 feet.

Additional information pertaining to this volcano is found at its official Internet web site. I personally did not visit the mountain during the last time I was in New Zealand.


This is far from the first time that what can be perceived as culturally insensitive acts by visitors occurring at landmarks which are considered sacred and steeped in history. As one of many examples, Breanna Mitchell from the United States came up with the idea in July of 2014 to take a photograph of herself smiling while at Auschwitz. As a result of that photograph, people from all over the world wanted to know what kind of respect — or lack thereof — is that to demonstrate for the victims of the Holocaust.

I visited the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps last month and will be posting articles and photographs of my experience.

Regardless of what travelers might believe, there has to be at least a modicum of respect when visiting notable landmarks which are considered sacred to the local people, as constant violations in the form of culturally insensitive acts could cause the locations to be permanently closed to visitors — and that would be a shame to people who truly want to admire and appreciate the meanings behind the importance of those landmarks and will travel great distances to see them in person.

There are people who believe that the naked human body is itself sacred and that there is nothing wrong with what Jaylene Cook did — and her photograph could even be considered a work of art to some people…

…but is this a case of a sheer and utter lack of respect for a sacred mountain peak — or is this what could be considered another example of being too uptight about nudity in general?

Imagery ©2017 TerraMetrics. Map data ©2017 courtesy of Google Maps. Information graphics by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “Model Posed Nude Atop Sacred Mountain and Causes Controversy”

  1. Steve says:

    We need more blog posts like this.

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