Someone seeing model pose nude on Mt Taranaki would be 'pretty horrified', says DOC
Seeing a Playmate model naked at the top of Mt Taranaki would have been "horrifying", the Department of Conservation says.
Jaylene Cook posed nude near the summit of Mount Taranaki and shared the photo - taken by her photographer boyfriend Josh Shaw - to Instagram. It attracted more than 16,000 likes was picked up by national and international media including the BBC and USA Today.
DOC Partnerships Manager Darryn Ratana has come down on the side of iwi after the picture went around the world. He said DOC would not condone behaviour that was offensive to iwi - and "it's also pretty offensive to the general public."
He said if someone had walked around a corner and seen that, they would have been "pretty horrified".
A concession is required "for films and photography of a commercial nature" on Mt Taranaki and Ratana said they are "currently seeking advice from our legal and permissions experts" about whether the couple should have had a concession. However, they will not be chasing the couple for a concession as they do not issue them retrospectively.
He said part of the process of applying for a concession was consultation with iwi about whether the activity is culturally appropriate.
They have no plans to place signs in areas of cultural significance to raise awareness. "We have our websites ... visitor centres.
"People who are wanting more information about cultural [interests] can always ring us up or ask any of our staff in those locations."
Cook has defended her decision to go nude in an interview with Newstalk ZB.
She said she and her partner had researched the history and cultural beliefs around Mt Taranaki before hiking up the mountain.
"There was nowhere that we read or were told that it was a bad thing to do, and we believe that it still wasn't. We see nudity as art and pure and natural," she told Newstalk ZB's Larry Williams.
"I respect everyone's views and opinions and I'm sorry that people felt we were being disrespectful - that was never our intention."
But she said she would do it again if she had the chance.
"We've had overwhelming support from local Maori and people from everywhere saying they're not offended at all - they love the photo and it's encouraged them to embrace their bodies as well."
Taranaki photographer John Crawford, who has taken several series of nude photos, said you do have to be respectful.
"There are certain rules you break and certain rules you don't."
He labelled the photo "an average shot".
He said his series of aerial nudes are still getting noticed worldwide, but people had criticised them when he took them.
"They thought I was exploiting a nude figure, a nude woman. People say why wasn't it a nude man?
"Some will see it positively and some will find something to pick at."
He said it is "obviously a fine line" between art and porn, but "I wouldn't call that porn. It doesn't reveal much".
He said if someone had complained about one of his photos in a similar context, he would have destroyed the image.
"You need to think pretty carefully before you do something like that. You need to be culturally sensitive."
WE SHOULD RESPECT ALL BELIEFS
Meanwhile, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has said that the Government should offer effective protection to indigenous Maori sacred sites.
In a statement Zed said that Mt Taranaki was of enormous spiritual significance to Maori and its inappropriate usage for any other agenda might be hurtful to the believers.
He urged the New Zealand government and Cook to offer a formal apology.
Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said the world should respect the centuries-old Maori traditions. He termed the photo "highly inappropriate" and said symbols of any faith should not be mishandled.
The Maori community should have the final decision on what is allowed on the mountain, Zed said.
* Comments on this story are now closed.