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Playboy model angers locals with photo on sacred volcano

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 3/05/2017 Jessica Schladebeck

© Instagram/Jaylene Cook A New Zealand tribe is ready to erupt over a Playboy model’s decision to pose nude atop a volcanic peak they believe is sacred.

High above the earth on the summit of Mount Taranaki, Jaylene Cook pulled off her gear, stripped down and posed. Her shutterbug boyfriend, Josh Saw, snapped several photos of his 25-year-old lady taking in the view from the top of the 8,261-foot volcano and later posted one of his snaps to Instagram.

The picture has netted thousands of likes on social media, but Dennis Ngawhare — a spokesperson for the local Maori tribe — said the image disrespected the mountain.

“It’s like someone went into St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and took a nude photo,” Ngawhare told the BBC. “It’s a sacred place and something like this is just very inappropriate.”

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom echoed the sentiment.

© Jaylene Cook/Instagram “They should ask themselves how they would feel if someone took a photo of themselves naked on the grave of a great grandparent,” he told the Taranaki Daily News.

The volcano is considered to be the burial ground of the tribe’s ancestors, with locals viewing the peak as an ancestor in its own right. Typically, climbing to the peak is inappropriate and is reserved for ceremonial purposes.

When the country was colonised by the British, the Maori lost control of their sacred spot — but they have since acknowledged tourists enjoy climbing the beautiful dormant volcano.

“It’s only recently that we can have some input on what goes on at the mountain,” Ngawhare said. “We simply ask people to please be respectful. This latest case is just another really annoying example where someone obviously didn’t know how to behave here.”

Cook, a New Zealand Native dubbed a Playmate after she posed in the Mexican edition of the magazine has defended the image.

“(The photo’s) not crude or explicit in any way,” she told the Taranaki Daily News. “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 its about freedom and empowerment.”

Playmate Jaylene Cook posed nude on top of Mount Taraniki in New Zealand in May of 2017. - jfoltyn/Getty Images/iStockphoto © Provided by New York Daily News Playmate Jaylene Cook posed nude on top of Mount Taraniki in New Zealand in May of 2017. - jfoltyn/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Another local mayor, Neil Volzke, said he did not take issue with her choice to pose nude so much as where she did it.

“I don’t think the picture itself is offensive or obscene,” he told BBC. “It is just inappropriate to take on top of Mount Taranaki because it is a place with a great deal of importance for the Maori community.”

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