Expert warns to take at home DNA testing with a grain of salt

  • 08/02/2018

DNA kits have been around for a while, but it's suddenly become the must-do for groups of families and friends, eagerly posting results on social media.

A Christchurch woman took one of those tests but instead of getting answers she wanted, her whole world was turned upside-down.

When Jennifer Snowdon took the test expecting to see 50 percent Chinese show up she was shocked to find she was actually 54.5 percent Polynesian.

Three's The Project spoke to DNA expert Nic Rawlence and asked how such a result can happen and he said consumers should take the at home test results with a grain of salt.

It turns out the test results can depend a lot on the database of the company who provides them.

For example if they have more European DNA on file they're more likely to give results telling people they have European heritage.

Mr Rawlence thinks what may have happened with Ms Snowdon is the company had a lot of Hawaiian people on their database who identify as Polynesian but may actually have Asian ancestry.

He's offered to look at Ms Snowdon's results himself, although no matter the result he says the key is not to think too much about the genetics, but rather the community you've built around you.

"One of the important things to remember is your DNA doesn't define you," he said.

"A sense of community belonging, whakapapa is more important than strings of DNA code."

Watch the video for the full The Project interview.