Although I have always been fairly sure of my ethnicity, I fell down the rabbit hole of ancestry DNA videos on YouTube early last year and got a wee bit obsessed with them. So naturally, I wanted to do it myself. With the first proper paycheck I’d received in over a decade, I decided to treat myself to a 23andMe Ancestry + Health kit.
For those of you unaware how these kits work, you’re provided with a method of collecting your DNA. Some services use cheek swabs, but 23andMe has a decidedly more gross method: you fill a tube with spit. Once you’ve done that, you send it back and wait for the results. Mine took just over a month to come in, but the processing time can be up to eight weeks, especially when there’s been a special on the kits.
Before taking the test, I knew I was mostly British and around 12.5% Māori. My maternal grandfather is a full Brit who migrated to New Zealand in the 50s, and my paternal grandfather was at least half Māori. Both of my grandmothers were New Zealanders with British, Scottish and “some kind of Western European” heritage. I wasn’t expecting to be too shocked by any of my results.
So, these are the results I got from 23andMe.
For those of you with screen readers or images turned off, I am 88.6% European, which breaks down into 48.9% British & Irish, 4.4% Scandinavian, 4.2% French & German, 0.2% Finnish, 27.9% broadly Northwestern European, 0.7% Eastern European, 0.2% Southern European, and 2.7% broadly European.
None of this section was too much of a shock. I expected a higher amount of British & Irish, but the ‘broadly’ NW European percentage could potentially still be British. The small amounts of Scandinavian and Western European were expected too.
The next results were the ones that initially shocked me. I hadn’t done much research into what my Māori blood could come back as, but I saw that 23andMe tested for ‘Oceania’, so I figured that’s where it would be. So, imagine my face when I saw 7.5% East Asian & Native American and only 2.8% Oceanian.
The 7.5% percentage broke down into 6.8% Southeast Asian, 0.1% East Asian, and 0.6% broadly East Asian & Native American. When I saw Southeast Asian, I started to consider the fact that historians believe that the Māori migrated from an island they think was most likely Taiwan. I went to the message boards to find out what the deal was, and sure enough, all other Māori (3) users of 23andMe had the same combo.
The final assigned result I got was <0.1% Middle Eastern & North African, which is probably standard for most people because we all came from Africa.
Through the message boards, I found out about a few other services that you could upload your raw DNA data (for free!) to and get different/more results, so naturally, I did that too.
The DNA.LAND results were the most similar to the 23andMe results, but still different enough that it was quite interesting. I came up as 89% West Eurasian, with 64% Northwest European, 13% Balkan (which didn’t show up at all in my 23andMe test, but I did have a small amount of Eastern European), 7% Finnish, and 5.3% Southwestern European.
My East Asian percentage was a little higher at 7.8%, and broken down into 4.3% Southeast Asian and 2% Taiwanese (which further confirms the possibility that the Māori people originated from Taiwan), 1.5% East Asian, and 1.5% ambiguous. My Oceanian was slightly lower at 2.1%. The rest (1.2%) was ambiguous.
GED Match offered a number of different tests that would give various results, but I chose the Eurogenes K36 as it produced the most ethnic populations. The percentages are not visible in the image, but percentages are provided on the page. I found this test the most interesting because it broke it right now.
The highest percentage I got was 17.92% North Sea (which encompasses both the British and Scandinavian covered in my 23andMe test), followed by 17.79% Iberian (Southwestern European), 11.78% North Atlantic (which again covers Britain and Scandinavia), 8.14% Italian, 8.14% Central European, 6.24% Malayan, 5.5% Fennoscandian (Scandinavian and Finnish), 5.28% French, 4.29% Eastern European, 3.12% Basque (Spain and France), 2.84% East Central European, 2.36% Indo-Chinese, 2.08% Oceanian, 1.44% Volga-Ural (Russia), 0.58% East Balkan, 0.55% Siberian, 0.35% South Chinese, 0.29% South Central Asian, and 0.14% South Asian.
And finally, the test I think had an algorithm programmed by drunk monkeys: My Heritage DNA. It was generally accurate, but there were two results I was like ‘REALLY GURL?!’ about.
98% European, with 74.7% Northern and Western European, broken down into 31.6% Irish, Scottish and Welsh, 24.4% English, and 18.7% Scandinavian. The separation of Irish/Scottish/Welsh and English was bogus because Irish is an actual separate ethnicity, but Scottish and Welsh is British. So the 31.6% and 24.4% percentage should have been combined as British. I don’t have any Irish ancestry.
My Heritage did pick up on more Eastern European (19.9%) broken down into 18.6% Balkan, and 1.3% East European, and 3.4% Iberian. These results matched the DNA.LAND and GED Match results pretty well so I was okay with that. But My Heritage almost completely erased my Māori heritage by detecting only 2%… um, Nepalese as my Asian/Oceanian blood. I definitely wouldn’t recommend getting your DNA tested with My Heritage on the back of these results.
I definitely recommend 23andMe if you’re interested in getting an ancestry DNA test done. They have occasional sales on the kits if you don’t want to lay down the big bucks, so keep checking the website.
(This post was not sponsored, by the way.)