DNA Overview

Getting Help With Your DNA

For its members, the NZSG has an Online DNA Interest Group Portal (ODIG). The interest group hosts a Google classroom which is available to ODIG members 24/7 and makes available recordings from ODIG monthly meetings as well as a range of resources for all interest levels for those using DNA as a tool for family history research. The NZSG also has a publicly available YouTube channel that includes some DNA videos.

If you're already a member, you can find out more about the Group. If you're not, join the NZSG here.

ODIG also has a Facebook page where we keep you updated with the latest DNA news and events. Follow here.

What is a Genealogy DNA Test?

A genealogical DNA test could help you find genetic relatives and expand your genealogy research. It is another tool you can use to find family members who know more about your family. It does not replace your paper research - it's another set of data.

For more introductory information on the types of DNA tests, have a look at DNA Basics, part of the Getting It Right Series.

Why Test?

DNA testing can be a very useful addition to your family history research toolbox when considered alongside other available evidence. For example, it can:

  • help to confirm the information already in your tree and support the addition of new information; and
  • highlight possible discrepancies in your tree supporting further investigation and pointing you in a more accurate direction.

Correctly analysed and interpreted, DNA does not lie whereas sometimes documentary evidence and family stories do. It is not uncommon for DNA results to throw up information that is contrary to paper records and/or oral family history. Sometimes this can be useful. Sometimes it can be life-altering. For this reason, it is important to know what you want to get out of doing a DNA test and to consider the implications of possible unexpected results and your readiness to deal with them.

Although this 2015 presentation by Gail Riddell makes no reference to MyHeritage and LivingDNA, it still raises important questions about why you might, or might not want to take a DNA test.

The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) is the authoritative site on all things to do with DNA testing for Genealogy. Their Wiki has a huge amount of useful information, including for those new to DNA testing.


Who to Test?

Most people start by testing themselves before identifying other members of the family who can usefully add to the genetic information gathered from DNA testing.

  • Your parents (or grandparents). As you inherit only half of your parents' DNA, by testing them your research will have access to all their DNA.
  • The older generations in your family such as (great) aunts and (great) uncles. Older generations will have a different set of DNA to you and may have inherited some that you haven’t.
  • Your siblings. DNA inheritance is random so you and your siblings will have inherited a different set of DNA from each of your parents (unless you are identical twins).
  • Second cousins. By testing your second cousins you can gain insights into your great grandparents’ DNA that may not have been passed down to you.

Always ensure that family members are fully informed and give willing consent before doing a DNA test. 

How to Test

Testing Companies

Ancestry DNA
FamilyTree DNA
Autosomal, Mitochondrial, Y chromosome
MyHeritage DNA
Living DNA

Autosomal DNA Testing Companies

ISOGG give a comparison of Autosomal DNA Testing Companies. While the pricing on the ISOGG chart may be out of date, the comparison between companies is still useful.

DNA Sample Collection

There are two main types of DNA sample collection:

  • The Cheek Swab method where the user gently scrapes the inside of their cheek
  • Saliva method where the user spits into a tube.

Older people find producing saliva difficult so may prefer a cheek swab.

Your Results

The NZSG Online DNA Interest Group (ODIG) offers a wide range of resources for its members on what to do once you have received your results. If you have not yet registered for ODIG join here.

Further information about what to do once you’ve received your results is available for NZSG members on our DNA – Your Results page.

If you are not yet a member of the NZSG join here.



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