Polynesia Category – AncestryDNA.com

Earlier this year I tested with Ancestry.com (or AncestryDNA.com) since I’ve been noticing non-Polynesians coming up with this new category.  This is way after the fact the research does not specify a Polynesia component, but rather a Melanesian and Asian or East Asian or Southeast Asian component.  I have seen other Asians, specifically Filipinos coming up with decent amount of this Polynesia category, as well as those of European descent coming up with small traces of Polynesia.

Under their Polynesia category, it mentions the sampling size was 18, and that one of the samples showed 11% Scandinavian.  A larger sampling size would yield better results especially in this case where one of the 18 samples had some European admixture.  This was enough to cause those with Scandinavian ancestry to come up with small traces of Polynesia, and in return cause people to wonder how they could have ever had such ancestry in their lineage to a point where some people create possible scenarios how they could have inherited this less than 0.1% Polynesia.

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Their Polynesia category was one of those categories where they had the least amount of samples.

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After receiving my results, as I suspected due to the fact that I am half Filipino, my percentage of the Polynesia category was pretty inflated.  It showed that I had 57% Polynesia versus 34% Asia East.  Knowing that my mother is 80% Hawaiian, and that my father was pure Filipino, I figured the amount of Asia that I showed 34% was missing 16% that was thrown into the Polynesia category.  That would in turn leave me with 41% Polynesia.  My mother is 20% European, and according to Ancestry I am 8% Europe, which seems to be about right.  The other DNA companies I tested at showed more than 10% Europe.  But adding the 41% plus the 8% comes out about right, 49%.

Recently I had a cousin on my father’s side of the family test, and she got her results.  She too is half Filipino, while her other half is completely Europe.  I expected her to show some Polynesia but I did not even guess how much that would be.  I was surprised to see 16% Polynesia for her, which is the same amount I had deducted from my own.  In fact, she shows 33% Asia while I show 34% Asia, and more specifically we both share 31% Asia East.  So they both are consistent.

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Although my mother was given an AncestryDNA kit, she has yet to take it.  But I can easily guess that she will easily show 20% Europe and 80% Polynesia.  Any other person who is Polynesian but admixed with some other Asian it may include part of their Asian component into Polynesia.  Maybe the fact that we are Filipinos and they have ancestral ties is why some of it is classified as such.  I did have another paternal cousin tested, she is half Filipino and half Japanese so not sure what type of results that will yield with the Polynesia category.  Will it be the same and show her as 16% Polynesia?  Or will it give her more due to her Japanese ancestry, or is that different enough to not be classified under the Polynesia category?

To find out more about AncestryDNA’s ethnicity/ancestry categories, you can read through their Ethnicity Estimate White Paper.

130 thoughts on “Polynesia Category – AncestryDNA.com

  1. This is super fascinating! My father was Hawaiian and my mother was Chamorro from Guam, so I am really interested to see how a test like this would read us. We have European ancestry as well, though we know less about that. In any case, I really appreciate you writing about this here. I just found your blog a few hours ago and have been enjoying going through your posts. Looking forward to learning more.


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    • Did you have a DNA test done yet? Or are you just into genealogy? With DNA tests, I saw one person who was half-Micronesian and it mimicked a Polynesian’s, so I’m going to assume that if you get DNA tested, it’ll look like any other Polynesian plus your European side of course.


      • Yo I did enjoy hearing about this explanation cause I was so curious about my genes cause I thought I was just black and europeans. But when I got my Dna results back from ancestry I had got 84% african, 15% european, and <1% polynesian. I was felt a lott hat I felt more asian than I would feeling more black plus i was so curious about myself on what am I really like cause I never display personality of a black man or european but I display myself so natural into the asian culture so much I can fit in so easily. So i wanted to get my Dna results checked out than I was given these result so when I got them I was actually kinda excited about it cause I knew I had african and european but didn't know I had polynesian blood line even if its a small amount i'm still a asian pacific islander. I was actually happen that polynesian has some close dna relation with north east asia and south east asia. And guessing my personality came from polynesia but i'm proud to say i'm a pacific islander to and I feel happy either way cause i know the culture of guamanian cause my aunt is a pacific islander herself.

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      • With any ancestry, whether testing at FTDNA, 23andme or Ancestry, you can get what is known as statistical noise. Everyone gets that. I consistently get almost 1% Native American, usually less than 1%, about 0.5% actually from 23andme and at Ancestry.com, and also when running my raw data through GEDmatch.com. But it does not mean that I have Native American ancestry, especially since my ancestors were not from that part of that world at all.

        Ancestry.com created a Polynesia category when in reality there is no such thing as a Polynesian gene. Polynesians are generally about 80% East Asian (or Southeast Asian to be more precise) and 20% Melanesian or Oceanian. The Melanesians are about 40,000 years old whereas the ancient Austronesians who came from the Taiwan area area about 7,000 years old or so, and they merged together 3,500 years ago to create us Polynesians.

        Having said that, Filipinos who are NOT Polynesians and get tested at Ancestry.com, will show up with about 30% Polynesia. The same for a Taiwanese aboriginal person. I have seen Chinese people who are mostly of Southern Chinese ancestry showing about 10% Polynesia. But it does not mean that they are Polynesian, but since Ancestry.com does not have a Southeast Asian component, it tends to be reflective in the Polynesia category or Pacific Islander category that they recently created back in December 2013 or so.

        When I first tested at FTDNA, they had for their Southeast Asian category a CAMBODIAN group. That’s how they identified my DNA. It does not mean that I have actual Cambodian, and I know for a fact my ancestors were not from there. And it identified me as 80% of that group. It only means that when they went around the world and sampled people from Cambodia and the Dai of northern Thailand, the Lahu of northern Cambodia, etc. that my DNA is more like those of Cambodia. My mother however they said it is more like the Lahu. My paternal aunt however, they said it is more like the She of southeastern China. It does not mean that my aunt and father were of the She people, or that my mother is of the Lahu people. My mother is Hawaiian, my father was Filipino. My father’s parents had been from the Philippines and their ancestors have been in that archipelago for centuries. The same for my Hawaiian mother and her ancestors have been in the Hawaiian islands since the beginning of its time, so around 400 AD – 800 AD.

        However, after explaining all of that, I am curious. You got the typical less than 1% Polyensian, however if you were to test at 23andme and you show up showing some tiny percent (up to 2%) of Southeast Asian, then that may indicate that you possibly might have had Malagasy ancestors who went to the Virginia/NJ/NY area in the 1700s who were taken during the slave trade from Madagascar to eastern Africa. So if you have African American ancestry going back to VA/NJ/NY area, then you may want to look into that further. It could mean that you have Malagasy ancestry and it is showing up (at Ancestry) as Polynesian, as tiny as it is. You should download your raw data and upload it to GEDmatch.com to analyze it further. And if you can afford it, try testing with 23andme, to see what your mitochondrial DNA lineage would be. A few African Americans have tested and got the Malagasy motif, but that would have to be your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s line.


      • You know right now you sound stupid. For saying there no such things as polynesian genes cause I look that up and their is such things as that and what they explain about history is that polynesian genes come from deep within southeast asia and some what from the northeast asia. And they all micronesian, malynesian, and polynesian divided into different tribe of asian pacific and move furthermore that how you got all these different Oceania. What you said would also make it sound like their no native american genes because they are so close to Russia and China mainland that your not calling them native american but asian. But native american did the same thing as pacific islanders did travel. So your logic doesn’t make since.


      • There is no such thing as a Polynesian gene. Polynesians as I said consist of two different components. They have East Asian (about 80%) and Melanesian (20%) autosomally. Y-DNA shows a different percentage and mtDNA also shows a different percentage. I’m not sure where you read that indicated that there really is a Polynesian gene. If that were the case, then the Human Genome Project probably would have got samples from them and identified an actual Polynesian gene, but they did not. Do not confuse yourself thinking that a motif is the same as an actual gene. There are specific mutations on the coding region of the mitochondria that was different enough and specific to a select group, that being the Malagasy and the other for Polynesians. This only happens with the mitochondria, whereas with the Y-DNA there is no such specific mutations that could be designated or limited to one particular group. And when it comes to autosomal DNA, you definitely will not have a particular gene, since that is not how autosomal works. And not every Polynesian today will have the actual motif but they can still be Polynesian. Just as African American males can have a European Y-DNA haplogroup or Caucasians can have a Y-DNA haplogroup going back to Africa, or an mtDNA haplogroup going back to Africa. It just means that their ancient ancestor along that direct line thousands of years ago were from those specific regions. That’s only one particular line out of hundreds if not thousands of ancestral lines that we have.

        See the following:
        Population Genetic Structure and Origins of Native Hawaiians in the Multiethnic Cohort Study
        Complete Mitochondrial DNA sequences provide new insights into the Polynesian motif and the peopling of Madagascar
        The Genetic Structure of Pacific Islanders
        Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences from the first New Zealanders

        Even with that last one they initially indentified B4a1a1a3 as a possible Maori motif. But now they realized it is not specific to Maoris since I have that motif myself and so do others from Hawaii and also now on Pitcairn.


  2. Wow you see that the funny part to cause on my dad side he’s half taiwanese and black I never really accept him as my dad cause he came later when I was 7 but I did in fact try to see if I have any asian heritage but polynesian came in so I even had 2nd thoughts that I got it from my dad too.


    • So your father is half Taiwanese, yet in your ancestry composition you show SSA and European only. How can your father be half Taiwanese and not have that show up in your own composition? The only thing that would result from that is that this is a NPE and your father is not your biological father.

      I’ve seen your comments on the various Youtube.com videos and it seems to be somewhat of a struggle trying to identify yourself as Asian when your DNA results obviously do not share any Asian at all as by what you stated with your Ancestry.com results. I would strongly suggest getting your father tested, if he is the one suspected of having the Asian ancestry.


  3. Pingback: Polynesia category – Ancestry.com (part 2) | Hawaiian DNA

  4. i think your looking at a hypothesis of someone else evidence that can not be explain to being correct yet.. and the funny thing is that I don’t have madagasy within my genes. If scandinavian have mated with a polynesian islander than that mean I have those polynesian genes that came from some one who was mix between the 2 either way. polynesian existed with their own genes when they seperated themselves from asia their genes begain to change so therefore whatever happen and the cause on why they move to island is a question. Not only that those people from southeast asia and those from taiwan went travel to these island and came their own kind of people and so one your not going to hear a pacific islander say oh we’re asian when they clearly do not consider themselves asian even if 80% of there Dna is from that asia it doesn’t matter they aren’t going to say their asian. it’s either micronesian, polynesian, and melanesia. Trust me I went on a lot of research to know their are such things as polynesian dna it all on the internet bro and if people wanna know what polynesian is they’ll find it on the internet about them and their Genes aka Dna or whatever same shit. cause what your saying is like their no such things are native american than when there dna show asian, mongolian, russia, and european and so one you not gonna hear them self they are asian when they have a lot of dna result show east asia most likely but they won’t consider themselves asian cause why cause they move on and travel to become a different person or as the people that wanna change, Not only that i don’t think this computer or technology are even correct anyway. Cause I was told I had native american blood and you know what happen I didn’t have that why ??? Matter fact do I have less european ? I should have more cause of slavery. My dad can be my biological father and he probably ain’t gonna do that test cause he feels fool possibility that i’m his son and even my grandmother feel the same way. All these dna stuff question a lot of people trust me on this these computer can be false. and genes work out alittle different cause I can get half of what my mom and father got but won’t get almost everything from their dna dna don’t work like that. Cause I explain to someone about what race my mom and dad is and she said okay your more black so I agree. Plus I don’t know if you heard that those who are blasian like me or any half bllack mix person would know this. That any percent of black in you means your black and even if the small out is trace out they’ll still say your black that the white people law.


    • Actually what I posted were actual research, if you bothered to take a look at it. And what we’re finding with autosomal DNA is that because Polynesians, specifically eastern Polynesians lack genetic diversity, if you really had any Polynesian in you which you clearly do not, then you would definitely be a match to at least ONE Polynesian person, but you don’t.

      I’m not sure how long you have been dealing with autosomal DNA, which is what your ancestry is based on, nor understand how Ancestry.com, which is what this post was about, actually tested only 18 Polynesians, one of whom was admixed with European (Scandinavian.

      What you are quoting or referring to is the USA’s system of one drop rule, which is not used today. In fact, you are using it as if that applies to you when it was the US Government’s implementation, just as they created in 1922 and defined what a “native Hawaiian” is suppose to be. These American systems are used to disenfranchise people, and they have. You are confusing both that and DNA which are definitely not the same thing.

      You claim to have done the research, yet you do not understand anything about statistical noise? Whose research did you look into? Bellwood? Or others like Kayser, Friedlander, Knapp, Duggan or even Matisoo-Smith? In fact it was Dr. Lisa Matisoo-Smith who forwarded one of those research paper that I mentioned previously. As you know, she is a Professor of Biological Anthropology at the University of Otago. I would not take that as if these are random things you find on the internet.

      I am providing a link to a presentation that I put together for the Polynesian DNA group and the Polynesian DNA project that I manage on FTDNA. I did it for these groups so that they understand why we get autosomal results the way that we do, the Y-DNA and mtDNA as it pertains to Polynesians and most importantly a brief mention of our oral traditions. I was getting the same questions all the time, and this was the result of all those questions.

      Polynesian Migration

      You claim to have done the research, but as you know, researching is not a one time thing. Maybe one day you will learn what the rest of us are learning, just as we recently had samples of the two Botocudo skulls uploaded to GEDmatch.com and now those old skulls dated around the 1600s are coming up to matches such as my mother and other Hawaiians, Maoris and one half Cook Island Maori person. The data is constantly changing and new discoveries are being made.

      I created this blog specifically for other members of the Polynesian DNA project that I admin as well as enlighten those in the genetic community to be familiar with autosomal DNA and how it relates to endogamous groups and to educate others in similar situations.


  5. Why is no one suggesting GEDmatch. My DNA in Ancestry puts me in 30+/60+ Polynesian and Asian with “noise” of South Asian, Central, and Melanesian. In GEDmatch, my result averages only 5 to 8 percent Polynesian/Oceania/Melaneisan, 80 percent Asian, 1 plus/minus percent Amerindian/Meso-American, African, Siberian, and Asian Indian 6 to 8 percent. They have a breakdown of Asia making me Malayan, Indo-Chiniese, South Chinese, East Asian, and Oceania.


    • That seems to be the norm for non-Polynesian of SEA ancestry, up to 6% is what I remember seeing for FILIPINOS. But GEDmatch as you know uses a few different calculators designed for specific groups like the South Asians based on Pakistanis, then those of specific Eastern European ancestry namely Lithuanian, and Eurasians or Middle Easterns, some Africans of French backgroun and of course Europeans in general. So whatever subset groups they use in their specific calculators in order to try to fit anyone into certain categories may give varying results. Using current DNA to reconstruct a pseudo-category of ancient times is not the best way to figure out your ancestral heritage particularly if one is admixed. Someone with Polynesian and European ancestry (common combination regardless of which island nation they are from) can produce varying results that does not even apply to their true ancestry.


      • Hello Kalani, which of GEDmatch admixture do you think is accurate for Asian Ancestry? You are correct I am Filipino, and don’t know my ancestry. In MDLP K23b I am showing 3.02% Australoid and 5.08% Melano Polynesian. The highest amount I have is MDLPWorld at 8.13% Melanesian. Dodecad V3 has me as East European 2.21%, but that admix only shows European, African, Asian results. I seem to be getting the same breakdown of admix in GEDmatch, just different percentages. Does that mean those are my true ancestry?


      • Im half egyptian and half filipino in my mom side /filipino side my mom and her family was pretty light skinned idk maybe its just products while in my dad side he has hazel eyes and my sister has green eyes im pretty light skinned will i get european?


      • Hi Joseph. If your mom had enough European DNA that she passed onto you, then yes. If not, you won’t see it. I’m not sure how your Egyptian may show up as there are different types from what I’ve seen and personally knew. But I’m going to assume that Middle Eastern, maybe the Italy/Greece could come up (not sure about that really) and Asia South as well as some African could show up.


  6. I’ve used Harappa and Eurogenes 9B for Filipinos. If it’s just a Filipino, Harappa will be fine too. I only chose Eurogenes 9B because it gives fewer categories and more broad. If you use MDLP, use World but not World-22 where it has many categories. Dodecad World is another one that I’ve used.

    Even when you use those and you look into the Oracles, you will find that they are more along the lines of the Southeast Asian groups. I thought I had run my aunt (She’s Filipino) through one of the MDLP and it listed under the Oracles various Filipino groups. You can always do a search on the Admixture tools to find FILIPINO. But they listed other ethnic groups, I think Mamanwa may have been one of them, not sure.


  7. I just got my results back from ancestrydna and the results were 88% East Asian and 12% Polynesian. My parents are both from China. My mom can trace her lineage for several hundred years but my dad has no idea what is lineage is. Is it possible that we have 12% Polynesian? Reading some of these posts make me question the accuracy of the test. Are there other tests that could differentiate or detail this finding a little more? Secretly, I’m hoping to embrace this new finding. It helps explain certain physical traits in our family.


    • Hi Sammy. I missed this post of yours over a month ago. But for Chinese, they have been getting about 10% – 12% Polynesia when testing at Ancestry.com. And no, it doesn’t mean that you have Polynesian in you, just that Ancestry created this category based on 18 samples of people who are of Polynesian background. Polynesians are about 68% Southeast Asian, so that Southeast Asian component is picked up in other Southeast Asians like Chinese, Vietnamese who get about 15% Polynesia and Filipinos who get about 32% Polynesia.


  8. I too am confused about my DNA results. Both of my parents came to Hawaii at age 14 and years of age. We always thought we were Filipino but with a tinge of either Italian or Portuguse not spanish. A relative in the Philippines (Cebu) stated that we had an Italian Grandfather. However my DNA testing came back 61% Asia East, 4%Asia South, 1% Asia Central and 34% Polynesian. I didn’t believe the results so I have never told my family about the findings. I have 7 brothers, we are much taller than the average Filipino, that is 6′ 1″, the rest ‘. average 5’ 8″ to 5’11, We are fair in complexion. My mother was also tall for a woman. She was 5’6″. I will plan to retake the test. What test do you recommend?


    • Your results is what is expected for a Filipino. It is basically 34% Pacific Islander (more specifically Polynesia) and + 65% Asia. Some Filipinos will get 1% – 2% of Asia South & Asia Central, just as I did. But since I am only half-Filipino, I would have received about half of what my father would have received for a Filipino (32% – 34% Polynesia). That would be 16% and since my mother is 85% Hawaiian (85% Polynesia but not pictured above), adding what I would have received from my mother & father together, my amount is just right – 57% Polynesia. Yours is the same – 34% Polynesia.

      Retaking the same test will not change the results. However, testing a parent, preferably a grandparent (the oldest generation) could help. You may want to try 23andme which does not have this confusing “Polynesia” category, and like FTDNA (which is cheaper than 23andme) you will get your true “Southeast Asia” category that Filipinos should get. And at FTDNA they have specific Y-DNA and mitochondria (mtDNA) tests that traces a direct lineage. The Y-DNA can trace your father’s, father’s, father’s, father’s, father’s, etc. line back thousands of years. Some Filipinos end up with a haplogroup that originated from Europe rather than Asia, which would indicate a foreign (Spanish) ancestor.


      • Ka lani:
        Mahalo for the information. You seem to be well versed in area of DNA analysis. Keep up the good. Catch you later.
        The Warrior (UH Grad)


  9. Hey Kalani,
    Looks like you are doing a great job and have put together some wonderful resources for people! Mahalo!


    • Mahalo e Lisa and for what you sent me 2 yrs. ago (Maternal History of Oceania from Complete mtDNA Genomes: Contrasting Ancient Diversity with Recent Homogenization Due to the Austronesian Expansion, and also A Highly Unstable Recent Mutation in Human mtDNA) which was instrumental within the Polynesian DNA project explaining some of our results, and how it affects us with autosomal DNA testing as well.


      • Hi Kalani. My wife is Pacific Islander (father: Polynesian mother: Melanesian). Solomon Islands descent. She wants to do a DNA test – but it seems to me that her results will likely be generic to the region. She would love to see evidence of her ancestors migration through the pacific (and elsewhere if there). Can you recommend a test that will provide such specific results – rather than the generic Poly/Mela result I expect.

        Thanks you / enjoy your posts..



      • Hi Baz,

        Ancestry.com would be the closest to getting those general cateogories of Melanesia and Polynesia while other DNA testing companies do not have such a category at all. And while this is still yet in its infancy, to have something more specific is difficult to accomplish with accuracy. But a lot of people who get these tests done usually transfer their raw data (for free) to GEDmatch.com. There they have other admixture tools where you could play around and some people can get a bit more accurate information while others like myself cannot.


  10. Aloha and mahalo, Kalani, for all of the useful information in this blog. We have a family story of a Samoan ancestor marrying a European, eventually moving to Europe and their descendants eventually to the US. This would have been probably 5 or 6 generations back. I have no actual details (names, dates) and never put much credence in the story, since there was nothing other than a story to go on. I did recently test at Ancestry and got the apparently-not-that-uncommon “<1% Polynesian" trace. (I should say, I have no Scandinavian ancestry.) I loaded the data on gedmatch, and I am curious, if you have the time to comment, what your thoughts are based on these? There seems to be a mix of East Asian/South Asian/SE Asian/Oceanian/Native American in all of them (I did some that you suggested above, and a few others for good measure). I don't have Native American ancestry to my knowledge. Is there anything at all that could be concluded from this? Is it all possibly just statistical noise? or do they possibly add up to something as a whole (sometimes showing up as one thing, sometimes another? )

    MDLP K13 Ultimate
    Amerindian 0.51
    ANE 17.73
    Arctic –
    ASI 0.86
    Caucas-Gedrosia 14.02
    EastAsian 0.21
    ENF 39.06
    NearEast 5.55
    Oceanian 0.80
    Paleo-African 0.35
    Siberian –
    Subsaharian 2.36
    WHG-UHG 18.55

    puntDNAL K12 Modern

    Sub-Saharan –
    Amerindian –
    South_Asian 0.84
    Near_East 5.38
    Siberian 0.98
    European_HG 33.75
    Caucasus_HG 19.09
    South_African_HG 1.69
    Anatolian_NF 36.29
    East_Asian 1.23
    Oceanian 0.75

    Eurogenes K9b

    Southwest_Asian 9.82
    Native_American 1.11
    Northeast_Asian 0.68
    Mediterranean 26.16
    North_European 58.42
    Southeast_Asian 1.53
    Oceanian 0.50
    South_African 0.71
    Sub-Saharan_African 1.07

    MDLP World

    Caucaus_Parsia 12.43
    Middle_East 8.57
    Indian 0.17
    South_and_West_European 44.35
    Melanesian –
    Sub_Saharian 1.72
    North_and_East_European 30.48
    Arctic_Amerind 0.59
    East_Asian 1.41
    Paleo_African 0.10
    Mesoamerican 0.16
    North_Asian –

    Dodecad World9

    Amerindian 0.93
    East_Asian 0.87
    African 2.18
    Atlantic_Baltic 58.43
    Australasian 0.33
    Siberian –
    Caucasus_Gedrosia 15.50
    Southern 21.74
    South_Asian –

    MDLP K23b

    Amerindian –
    Ancestral_Altaic 2.56
    South_Central_Asian 4.82
    Arctic 0.87
    South_Indian 0.83
    Australoid –
    Austronesian 0.93
    Caucasian 28.35
    Archaic_Human –
    East_African 0.63
    East_Siberian –
    European_Early_Farmers 24.47
    Khoisan –
    Melano_Polynesian –
    Archaic_African 0.16
    Near_East 3.78
    North_African 3.93
    Paleo_Siberian 0.26
    African_Pygmy 0.19
    South_East_Asian 0.08
    Subsaharian –
    Tungus-Altaic –
    European_Hunters_Gatherers 28.08


    • Looking at those, I’d say no. Because non-Polynesians, including those of just European ancestry could get sometimes higher percentages of Oceania.

      But you said about 5 – 6 generations which is where DNA may not show up for some. Unless it’s a direct male line, then you could/should get Y-DNA tested to see if it is an O haplogroup (more likely) or C haplogroup (less likely). But it seems with autosomal it is too far back.

      I tried to do the same for my European side, trying to find someone who matches my American ancestors who arrived in 1793 and another one arriving in 1817. They were my 6x great-grandfather & 5x great-grandfather (father-in-law & son-in-law), but that’s already 7 generations from my mother and her sister who got DNA tested. We all have European in us but I know that is coming via our more recent ancestors, my 3x great-grandfathers…so 4 generations away from my mom & her sister. I’ve connected to a relative only on our European segment of one of those 3x great-grandfathers too.


  11. I am basically 100% european and I am 7% Scandinavian, but I have 0 to less than 1% Polynesian. Would you think this is just some coincidence? One of my family members was born in New Zealand, but he was basically white. What do you think about this situation?


    • Hi Aaron. I guess you are referring to Ancestry? I know that some people have been getting less than 1% and normally anything less than 2% is considered statistical noise but you do have ties to NZ as you said but you said he was basically white. Did you mean just of European ancestry with certainty? Or of European ancestry as far as you know? It could be nothing, not unless you know there was a female involved, and if so, you could look for the direct female descendant to get them mtDNA tested.


  12. Hi Kalani

    I recently did a DNA ancestry test to find out my roots. I was adopted at birth, and my adoptive parents have never spoken about where I actually come from.They have sinced past on, I live in the northern territory of Australia. Now I have green eyes, very fair skin with mostly European features so I assumed I was European. How ever after taking two different dna test here in Australia I have absolutely no European dna.

    Dna result 1

    Melanesia-14.0 %

    Dna result 2

    South east asia-86.0 %
    Melanesia- 13.9 %

    I recently found out through the Adoptive agency that my parents were both Maori from New Zealand, but they could not give me any other details as my mother had put a block on the record? Does my dna tell me im Polynesian or Asian? Is this consistant with being maori? Is green eyes and very fair skin normal in Polynesian ancestry? Just curious

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Aydan,

      I knew of a woman whose 2x great-grandmother (or something that distant) was aboriginie and I thought she said she had Melanesian and maybe some Asia South in there too. Ancestry.com does not have a Southeast Asian category, but where did you get DNA result 2 from? Maoris like other Polynesians will only get “Polynesia.” Where did you test, and do you see my name anywhere as a match?


  13. Also I forgot to add that I have 7 % unknown dna that both labs have sent off to national geographics and other labs abroad to be analysed.

    They basically told me, that some Polynesian groups like the maori have this halogroup.

    Just curious what does that mean?


    • If you tested at National Geographic (which does not give you any matches) you should see some Oceania in there + Southeast Asia for Polynesians.


  14. Hi Kalani

    Thank you for your reply.

    I had the first DNA test done at Homedirectdna.com.au (Brisbane, QLD, AU)
    and the second DNA test done at Genetrackaustralia.com.au
    Both DNA tests were done & sample here in Australia by independent labs. Can i get Ancestry.com DNA done here in australia?

    Again thank you for your reply!


    • Greetings, Aydan! Yes, you can get tested by Ancestry in Australia: dna.ancestry.com.au. It’s probably just the case in your 2nd result that the company that did the testing uses “Southeast Asia” as a proxy for both Southeast Asian AND Polynesian ancestry (whereas, the reverse is probably never true). My guess, if you did Ancestry’s test, is that you would see a large East Asian component and a smaller Polynesian component, but in any case, this probably does indeed point to Maori ancestry, as you were told. With green eyes, I would guess that you would indeed have some European admixture (or at least West Eurasian…I am not aware of East Asians or Polynesians having non-brown eyes, but I could be wrong; there was a recent study showing that all people with blue eyes descend from a single person who lived 6000-10000 years ago). One of the nice things about testing with Ancestry is that you can find matches with living relatives, and that you can download the “raw data” from your test and upload it to gedmatch.com for much better analysis than you get on Ancestry. Another good place to test initially is Family Tree DNA (familytreedna.com) which also does testing in Australia. They have better tools on their site as well, though their focus traditionally has been more on yDNA and mtDNA testing. It’s not a bad idea to try yDNA/mtDNA testing as well, because, as Kalani implies, those can also lead to a better understanding of your ancestry (yDNA tests your father’s father’s father’s, etc. line, mtDNA your mother’s mother’s mother’s, etc. line, and there are certain “haplogroups” for both that point to Polynesian ancestry). Good luck and best wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Tangaloa

        Thank you for your reply!.I don’t know much about DNA and how it all works. I just ordered a swab kit from ancestry dna, so thank you for letting me know, I actually thought Polynesians were from America until I learnt they come from Asia, so im learning alot lols.I was so confused why I had no European ancestry and after speaking to both labs, all they told me, is that my green eyes could be a mutation and that it just means my melanin levels are low.I still am really confused as I always get mistaken as a French or Persian man.

        But hopefully my Ancestry.com results will show more indept information as to where I come from & i will definately look into familytreena.com I never thought in a million years I could be Polynesian or maybe Asian? Hopefully I get a clearer result.

        appreciate your imput!


  15. I just read your first reply

    So I could be Aboriginal? As in Australian Aboriginal? Man that would be cool! My results are being sent to Nat geo and another lab over seas for some testing. The lab told me, its just the normal process?


    • I don’t want to say that you could be that, but since you explained in a previous email about the testing companies you used, MAYBE they are going by different categories.

      We know that a Polynesian genome it is basically close to 70% Southeast Asian and 30% Melanesian which is usually classified as “Oceania” by different places. Maybe these companies have slightly different alogrithms (which I’m sure is the case) so that could be just reflective of you being Maori. You had no other admixture in there from what I could tell. Not European, etc. So probably just Maori ancestry.


      • Hi Kalani

        Yes,I received confirmation from both labs that my ancestry is Most highly Maori. Ive also received an email from a scientist at Massey University in Auckland,New Zealand asking me, if I would like to fly to New Zealand to be examined both physically and genetically lols. I haven’t made my mind up yet, but he basically told me that my results question the theory that full Maori people were thought to be extinct back in the early 1900s due to intermixing with other groups, so im assuming, that im full maori.

        As for my skin, eye colour and lack of Polynesian appearance. A maori elder who contacted me when I was trying to find my birth parents and family told me that I resemble the “Patupaearehe” or “Fairy people”. They were maori tribes in New Zealand who lived on slopes of high volcanoes. They were very tapu or scared in the maori world. They had red hair, blue or green eyes and very fair skin. She said the maori people fared these tribes as they were thought to pocess powers and were mythically linked to the underworld. I thought this was just a mythical story until i researched the history.The first white people to reach the shores of new Zealand, including captian cook, recorded numerous accounts of seeing these people deep in the forest and they were highly intelligent very mysterious.The white people thought that these maori people were ancient tribes from Egypt, greek or the lost tribe of Judah lols. I was born with red hair and green eyes and white skin. She said back in the ancient times. Maori woman who mixed with the paturaearehe & gave birth to patupearehe children, will have to give the child to the high chiefs of the tribe as a gift to protect the tribe. These people are still fared today in maori mythology lols. She also told me this could explain why my mother gave me up, because usually I would be given to my grandparents or other family members in nz not given to european strangers in Australia. But its just a theory

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, the comment
        “I would love to know the outcome of your AncestryDNA results, It’s such an interesting read”
        Was directed to Aydan (I’m confused on how this WordPress comment system works lol)


  16. Hi, Aydan (and Kalani, just found this blog)

    I know nothing of DNA testing, I’m just curious. Your story is so very interesting! It made me want to make an account just to comment. I want to get a test done and assumed I’d have a relatively small amount of Polynesian ancestry. That may very well be the case, but seeing yours so large surprised me. We have a lot of people trying to undermine our claim of being the first people in NZ. They say there are no full blooded Maori left, we’re not Maori anymore etc. But whatever… I just wish you luck on your journey and hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for.

    It is true that Maori traditionally adopted children of extended family (they’re called whaangai). It’s quite common even today. My niece was one until her other mum passed away. You’re meant to know where you come from, but it might’ve been harder to do that overseas. (Patupaiarehe… that’s cool.)

    Again, good luck!


  17. Hi Kalani,

    I’m looking to get myself and my partner tested to see our lineage.
    I’m of Maori, Niuean and English descent… That I know of.
    My partner is of English, Samoan & Tuvaluan descent.
    And we just wanted to get more information just so we know specifically where our lineage lies and if there are any ‘surprises’ there.

    I’ve taken a look at 23andme and also Ancestry.com and we can’t decide which is the best test to take, could you help shine any light on what you think would be the best/most indepth for us. We’re situated in Australia and seen that both those websites do testing in Australia too.

    We recently returned from a trip to FESTPAC in Guam (with a stopover in the Philippines) and we met with some of the Taiwanese aboriginals and we were amazed at how many cognets there were in our native languages and how closely some physically resemble our family members.

    Which is why we want to check out our Ancestry too.

    Thanks so much!

    P.S Reading your comments on this blog are amazing, my partner has recently enlightened me to everything Austronesian, which is why I want to learn more about my heritage.


    • Ancestry.com has a $79 sale till tomorrow, but that may apply to the USA only since it’s for Independence day – July 4th. 23andme more expensive for us now.

      Ancestry does have a POLYNESIA category so that may be easier to interpret for people like yourself who actually have Polynesian background. Whereas if you were to test at 23andme, your Polynesian portion would be a combination of Southeast Asia + Oceania.

      But definitely with a background like yours & your partner’s (I don’t have any project members of Tuvalu ancestry) would be an interesting add. Same for Niue.

      Wish I could’ve met some Taiwanese aboriginals. And that FESTPAC, I think someone told me they go to different countries yearly?


      • Kalani,
        I was planning on trying 23andme next month, but just about 2 hours ago went on the Ancestry website and saw they do DNA Testing too – Which in turn made me find your blog through google, which I’m glad I did, you sound like you really know your stuff!

        We’re excited to see our results, we’ll probably go with Ancestry in the next few days, then in a month or 2 we’ll try 23andme and have both results.

        And yes, FESTPAC was amazing and meeting the Taiwanese aboriginals was definitely the highlight for us at the festival, we also attended a Taiwanese aboriginal language forum which was both enlightening and interesting.

        Also, FESTPAC is held every 4 years in different Oceanic countries, this year’s being in Guam and next year’s being in Hawaii, so I’m guessing you’ll be going to the next one 🙂


    • OH yeah, same here, I couldn’t tell if that comment was for me or Aydan since I posted my results. lol And yet what you replied to the quoted part was what I wrote. I thought it was what I wrote?


    • Ah, that’s right, every 4 yrs. I met or recently spoke to someone who attended & they told me about it. I never heard of it before. 🙂

      Well good, get tested & get back when you get your results. Or type in my family names HOLBRON, MONDOY is my last name, or KANAE. See if my mom comes up as a match, which you should being that you are Maori. 🙂

      Then later we can talk about joining the Polynesian DNA Project if you are ever interested.



      • Hey Kalani,

        We are definitely interested in joining the Polynesian DNA Project. I’ve already bookmarked the link.
        We will get back to you once we receive our results. You can email me anytime at robbie@robbieallen.com.au

        Also, have you joined the #Austronesian facebook page? A lot of amazing discussions from people all over the Austronesia region 🙂



  18. Kalani,
    I think it’s the coolest thing that the genetics ended up matching the oral history of Polynesians, that they came from what is now Taiwan. Goes to show; you can’t always dismiss oral histories.
    So, there was only a small sample size of Polynesians, with one with significant Swedish ancestory. This may explain my Mom’s 23andMe test. Although a small enough percentage to be classified as noise, my mother shows 1.02% Oceanian on the Eurogenes K13 project on Gedmatch.com. I was curious about this, since my mother and her family going back 300 or more years were isolated in the backwoods, deep in Appalachia, most of them never even getting the memo, that the Pacific Ocean existed, much less knowing any Polynesians. Her test showed she was mostly North Atlantic and Baltic, which makes sense, since her family names are mostly English and Scottish, both of which would probably had some Scandinavian in them.
    Of course, it could be just noise. It just seemed a bit peculiar, that on the same project, she showed .59% American Indian, and I would have thought, she’d have shown a larger percentage of American Indian, than Oceanian, because American Indian blood is pretty common in the families of early American settlers, but because they settled in the New World prior to Captain Cook, Oceanian shouldn’t be very common. Mom show’s even more Sub-Saharan African at 1.07%, but this isn’t a surprise, because a few hundred years ago, in the New World, you were lucky to find someone to be with that wasn’t related to you, so race was not nearly the “concern” it became a couple of hundred years later. Thankfully, that concern is fading overall. It’d fade quicker if politicians didn’t keep using it to divide us all!
    I wish these tests were more accurate than the 2% (at best). You could have a 3 greats grand parent be full blooded of a different race than the rest of your family, and it would be right around the margin of error!
    Anyway, in the big picture, the whole race thing can be silly or divisive. You go back just 50 or 60 thousand years, we all looked like Nelson Mandela, so we’re not far from one another anyhow. It just shows how quickly our appearance changes due to geographic separation.
    Even knowing that, I still find the subject of racial make up facinating. It might not be fair to “thoroughbreds”, but I would be bored with it all, if I were 100% of any race. Somehow, diversity makes it interesting.
    Keep up the good work Kalani and let’s hope the sample sizes get larger!


    • I am from Taiwan and ancestry shows me as 94% Asian East and 6% Polynesian. I don’t think the Polynesian component is all Southeast Asian because other sites have me as about 60% Southeast Asian so I think most of it is part of Asian East.

      One of my Grandmothers had some Taiwanese Aborigines ancestry and I think that’s where the Polynesian DNA comes in. However it is hard to tell with the limited samples that Ancestry has for Polynesia. Wish there were better sample sizes or tests for this stuff.


      • The Polynesian category is not 100% Southeast Asian. That’s because a Polynesian is not 100% Southeast Asian. If they were, then using a category such as “Polynesian” would produce higher percentages for those of Southeast Asian background. As I mentioned, Chinese people are reporting about 10% Polynesia and your 6% seems to be about right.

        The fact that you had a grandmother who was part aboriginie would mean that genetically it is similar to Polynesians as the 2nd group who moved into Oceania came from Taiwan 7,000+ years ago.

        Ancestry only used 18 Polynesian samples. If you upload your results to MyHeritage you may get a more accurate reading of your background taking away the Polynesian although you will probably show some Filipino/Indonesian/Malaysian instead as that is the other category that they have, along with Thai/Cambodian. But I am curious to see what your results would be after you upload it. You should do that, since it is currently free for the raw data upload.



  19. DNA tests that don’t have a Polynesian reference population will show Polynesian ancestry as a mix of East Asian and Melanesian (or “Oceanian,” as they sometimes call it), but that doesn’t mean that Polynesians are descended from a mix of East Asians and Melanesians. Rather it’s just the tests fudging to make the data fit a more limited set of populations. Polynesians’ ancestors entered the Pacific through a separate migration than that of Melanesians, and scholars now believe the Polynesian migration actually occurred earlier:


    The same thing happens whenever a reference population is excluded from these tests. Someone who shows Central Asian ancestry in one test will tend to show a mix of Middle Eastern and Mongolian in tests which don’t have a Central Asian reference population. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Central Asians are descended from a mix of Middle Easterners and Mongolians.


    • Actually, they are. A lot of the research, particularly with Y and mtDNA shows that the Polynesian genome is a combination of these Southeast Asians who went through Near Oceania 4,300 +/- years ago into the area that was populated by the earlier Melanesian group of people. The Y-DNA shows both of East Asian and Melanesian origin but mostly Melanesian origin while the mtDNA does show some haplogroups present in Melanesia, but it is dominated by the East Asian haplogroup – B.

      That link you provided mentioned the well known Express Train from Taiwan to Polynesia theory and that has been studied heavily and with all of the DNA results, it has shown clearly not just with autosomal results but also Y-DNA and mtDNA studies that the Polynesian genome clearly has markers known to be in those 2 other groups mentioned.

      While I’m not so keen on articles that talk about research, I prefer the actual research paper itself. Here’s a list of what I used in my research.

      1. Population Genetic Structure and Origins of Native Hawaiians in the Multiethnic Cohort Study – Kim, Gignoux, Wall, et al
      2. Maternal History of Oceania from Complete mtDNA Genomes: Constructing Ancient Diversity with Recent Homogenization Due to the Austronesian Expansion – Duggan, Evans, Friedlaender, et al
      3. A Highly Unstable Recent Mutation in Human mtDNA – Duggan & Stoneking
      4. Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequencing Reveals Novel Haplotypes in a Polynesian Population – Benton, Macartney-Coxson, Eccles, et al
      5. Maori Origins, Y-Chromosome Haplotypes and Implications for Human History in the Pacific – Underhill, Passarino, Lin, et al
      6. Melanesian Origin of Polynesian Y Chromosomes – Kayser, Brauer, Weiss, et al
      7. The Genetic Structure of Pacific Islanders – Friedlaender, Reed, et al
      8. Ancient Voyaging and Polynesian Origins – Soares, Rito, Trejaut, et al
      9. The Impact of the Austronesian Expansion: Evidence from mtDNA and Y Chromosome Diversity in the Admiralty Islands of Melanesia – Kayser, Choi, van Oven, et al
      10. Complete mitochondrial DNA sequences provide new insights into the Polynesian motif and the peopling of Madagascar – Razafindrazaka, Ricaut, Cox, et al
      11. Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences from the first New Zealanders – Knapp, Horsburgh, Prost, et al
      12. A Predominantly Indigenous Paternal Heritage for the Austronesian-Speaking Peoples of Insular Southeast Asia and Oceania – Capelli, Wilson, Richards, et al
      13. Stone tools from the ancient Tongan state reveal prehistoric interaction centers in the Central Pacific – Clark, Reepmeyer, Melekiola, et al
      14. Increased Y-chromosome resolution of haplogroup O suggests genetic ties between the Ami aborigines of Taiwan and the Polynesian Islands of Samoa and Tonga – Mirabal, Herrera, Gayden, et al
      15. The Polynesian gene pool: an early contribution by Amerindians to Easter Island – Thorsby
      16. Rethinking Polynesian Origins: Human Settlement of the Pacific – Denny, Matisoo-Smith
      17. Austronesian genetic signature in East African Madagascar and Polynesia – Regueiro, Mirabal, Lacau, et al
      18. European Y-Chromosomal Lineages in Polynesians: A Contrast to the Population Structure Revealed by mtDNA – Hurles, Irven, Nicholson, et al
      19. Evolutionary History of the COII/tRNA Lys Intergenic 9 Base Pair Deletion in Human Mitochondrial DNAs from the Pacific – Redd, Takezaki, Sherry, et al
      20. When did the Polynesians Settle Hawai’i? A Review of 150 Years of Scholarly Inquiry and a Tentative Answer – Kirch
      21. Melanesian mtDNA Complexity – Friedlaender, Hodgson, Stoltz, et al
      22. mtDNA Suggests Polynesian Origins in Eastern Indonesia Am. J. Hum. Genet. 63:1234-1236, 1998
      23. The ‘Express Train from Taiwan to Polynesia’: on the congruence of proxy lines of evidence – Oppenheimer
      24. The Origins of the Polynesians: An Interpretation from Mitochondrial Lineage Analysis – Sykes, Leiboff, Low-Beer, et al
      25. Polynesian Genetic Affinities with Southeast Asian Populations as Identified by mtDNA Analysis – Melton, Peterson, Redd, et al
      26. Polynesian origins: Insights from the Y chromosome – Su, Jin, Underhill, et al
      27. Matrilineality and the Melanesian Origin of Polynesian Y Chromosomes –
      28. Ancient Solomon Islands mtDNA: assessing Holocene settlement and the impact of European contact – Ricaut, Thomas, Mormina, et al
      29. When did the ancestors of Polynesia begin to migrate to Polynesia? The mtDNA evidence – Lesniewski
      30. Melanesian and Asian Origins of Polynesians: mtDNA and Y Chromosome Gradients Across the Pacific – Kayser, Brauer, Cordaux, et al
      31. Testing migration patterns and estimating founding population size in Polynesia by using human mtDNA sequences – Murray-McIntosh, Scrimshaw, Hatfield & Penny
      32. Genome-wide Analysis Indicates More Asian than Melanesian Ancestry of Polynesians – Kayser, Lao, Saar, et al

      The ones to really read through are 1, 2, 10, 11, 14, 17, 21, 26, 29, 30, 31 & 32.


  20. Hi Kalani,
    Thank you for posting a detailed account on the lack of Polynesian in the study. I’m of mostly European descent. I guess the 8% Scandinavia I have must be picking up on the error you talked about. Because Ancestry DNA says I’m 1% Polynesian and my mom’s family don’t believe it.. I’d like to think I was, but thanks for clearing that up.

    I know that result is coming from my mom’s side, because I have a half sister that is on Ancestry DNA and she doesn’t have the 1% Polynesian result so I know this is coming from my mother’s side of the family tree.

    James Y.


      • <1% so most like the error you were referring too. It makes sense that 1 in 18 people from Polynesian might have some European ancestry, with Sailor from as far back the East India Trade Company passing through. I just can't picture how Polynesian of any kind would have made it back through Europe to me in the States. I have to admit I've never considered migration from Polynesia to Europe before and I know nothing of history going that way.
        My wife is Okinawan and Japanese. Her mom's family had been in the Hawai'ian Islands since the 1800's. So we got a pretty good laugh about me a Haole, being more Hawai'ian (maybe) than them. But boy what a story it would be for me since I love a Hawai'i so much to actually have Polynesian in me. Some homecoming.


      • Has Ancestry DNA made any statements apology about this error?

        Is there any slim chance that we do have Polynesian blood? I have 8% Scandinavia, which is where from your posting and explanation the Polynesian comes into play. Just wondering because Scandinavian according to Ancestry DNA includes Holland, home of the Dutch East India company for sometime I believe? Personally I’d be delighted to think that somewhere waaay back on my momma’s side there’s some Island ancestors looking down on me, like hey welcome home! I can see how some folks conversely might find it scandalous.


      • Anything less than 2% is usually classified as statistical error. I get consistent less than 1% of Native American, but we know this coming from a relationship, distant relationship to East Asia, of which I have a significant amount of.

        Have you tried GEDmatch.com? If you try those admixture calculators there, you can look at the Spreadsheets and they show the different groups and how they scored with the multiple categories. Basically what they’re trying to do is squeeze you into as many categories as possible.

        Ancestry really doesn’t care, like with the other companies, as we know this is only as best of a guesswork they can do. What they should do is get more DNA samples for both Melanesia and Polynesia.

        The unique thing about the Polynesian genome being that it lacks genetic diversity, it makes DNA matching much more interesting. Particularly for those who are varied admixed Polynesians. Because these people still can come up as a genetic match to other Polynesians, not just one or two but a few of them, which would be a strong indicator of having Polynesian background.

        So while some people may be on the borderline of 2% Polynesia, it would be obvious by their DNA matches. On the other hand, Filipinos will get up to as much as 40% Polynesia at Ancestry, even though they are not Polynesian. And this would be very obvious as these people have few matches with other Filipinos. They won’t have DNA matches with Polynesians. Again, that’s a clear indication of having Polynesian ancestry, even if they are admixed, because of the lack of genetic diversity, it seems to help at least with confirming Polynesian ancestry.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Aloha Kalani and other followers of this post! I was reading this past October about an interesting scientific find about Melanesians having unknown Hominim ancestry (in addition to Neanderthal and Denisovan). Example articles here: http://www.sciencealert.com/pacific-islanders-appear-to-be-carrying-the-dna-of-an-unknown-human-species and here: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dna-data-offer-evidence-unknown-extinct-human-relative This got me thinking about prior studies that have shown Denisovan DNA to be virtually non-existent in modern humans outside of Melanesia and the Pacific Islands (see here, for example: http://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(11)00395-8 ) I have read that some scientists believe that East and Southeast Asians may have some Denisovan DNA as well, but it is non-existent in Africans, and at best a small trace in Europeans. That specific paper estimates that Melanesians have 4-6% Denisovan DNA. Figure 1 of the paper shows that even Samoans have a fairly significant amount (e.g., vs. Asians). This got me wondering if a person’s percentage of Denisovan DNA could be some sort of proxy for whether or not one has Melanesian or Polynesian ancestry. You can actually calculate your percentage relatively easily with a calculator that runs against the well-known ancient DNA samples (the same ones found on gedmatch). There is a calculator here: http://www.y-str.org/2014/12/ancient-calculator.html (at the Download link…it will only work on PCs or a Mac that can run virtual Windows apps). Since my reputed ancestry is probably too far back to show up as matches in autosomal DNA (I was one of the 1% Polynesian DNA from Ancestry, with similar percentages on gedmatch), I thought that if I had more than a tiny amount of Denisovan DNA, that could be a further potential indicator of Polynesian ancestry. When I ran my sample (I used the “Total Shared DNA” predefined setting for this, running against the “Denisova” sample; note you have to use a .txt or .csv file from ancestry, 23andme or FTDNA), I was somewhat surprised to get 1.83%. When I run my mom’s (as a negative comparison; she has no Polynesian ancestry, if I do have any, it would be from my dad’s side), it shows only a 0.22% match.

    So I am curious! If anyone else on here is willing to run their sample against the calculator, I would love to hear what your results are, and whether you have known Polynesian ancestry, or no Polynesian ancestry. It would be a small test to see if results match expectations (my hypothesis would be that non-Polynesians would have well under 1% and Polynesians would have greater than 1%). It could be a sort of proxy, as I said, using ancient DNA, to tell whether you might have Melanesian or Polynesian ancestry. (I do realize that the science on this is not yet definitive, but this would be a fun somewhat-scientific experiment, even if not fully scientific, e.g., there would be some obvious selection bias).


    • I ran my mother’s. I ran it against both of the Botocudo samples since we know now they’re not Botocudos, but Polynesians.

      Botocudo 15 = 10.36%
      Botocudo 17 = 15.80%
      Denisova = 0.53%

      Botocudo 15
      Botocudo 17

      I don’t know how others compare to Denisova.


      • Mahalo, Kalani! Very interesting result. I had expected higher Denisova for your mother. It would be interesting to see what others have. I also ran mine against the 2 Botocudo samples, and got:

        Botocudo 15 11.42%
        Botocudo 17 10.26%

        I guess that is hard to interpret—it goes against what I was thinking (I would have guessed your mom would be somewhat higher Denisova, and that my Botocudo matches would be extremely low (e.g., my Euro-only mom shows Bot 15 match of 4.51% and Bot 17 of 3.95%)). Do you have any thoughts on these results, Kalani?

        Would love to hear from others and see if their results are in line with either of these. Also, for anyone else interested in the Botocudo samples (I did not really know much about them, so thank you for the tip!), there is a good post (with a shout-out to Kalani 🙂 ) on Roberta Estes’ blog https://dna-explained.com/2015/07/02/botocudo-ancient-remains-from-brazil/


    • I don’t like comparing with these ancient samples since it’s harder to interpret, and I know they use/test less amount of SNPs. With the exception of the Botocudo skulls where it’s easy to get current living matches today to those samples. I guess for now companies like NatGeo will have to do with showing how much percentage of Denisovan there is but now with the recent finding, it probably is a proxy for something else. So who knows. But interesting your mom shows a percentage as well.

      If you go to GEDmatch.com (are you uploaded there?) and run a ONE TO MANY with the files of the Botocudo skulls, you can see some of the matches there.

      And thanks for that with Roberta’s blog! I met her (finally) last month in Houston, and her presentation briefly mentioned Polynesian Y-DNA C haplogroup but I had to leave Houston so left the conference early.


  22. Everyone thinks I am half asian and black and most people think I am Hawaiian/Polynesian. SO, I did my DNA test and I only have 1% Polynesian and 1% Asian. I guess it is the AFrican and European blood that gives me this look. lol


  23. I just got my DNA results back from ancestry.com the other day. I was very puzzled by the 11% Polynesian that is showing up on my test results. My father is Filipino my mother is European. It was always our understanding also that our Filipino great grandfather was half Spanish. But nothing, absolutely nothing showed up from the Iberian Peninsula at all. I’m still not sure if I understand the whole Polynesian thing showing up. But it will be fun to research it more! As it happens I am mostly East Asian!


      • Ah, so it is 16% Polynesia. Ok that’s what my cousins get too, they’re half Filipino and if I take that same amount of Polynesia that I should have received via my Filipino father, my totals come out even.

        Does your mother have British ancestry? I have British ancestry via my mother and although it’s a combination at Ancestry and 23andme, at FTDNA it shows up only as Scandinavia.


    • Hi Lisa,

      So your 11% POLYNESIA that showed up at Ancestry is from your Filipino side. Yours is more on the low end though from what I’ve seen for other half-Filipinos like myself. Is your father or his family from the northern part of the Philippines? Ilocos? Or Tagalog but from places more towards the north? I’m trying to see if it’s more mid-Philippines (Visayas and south) are the places that being closer to more oceanic people are coming up with higher percentages of Polynesia when they test at Ancestry.com.

      If your grandfather was half-Spanish, your father would have passed down some of that Iberian (Greece/Italy) categories unto you.

      Uploading your raw data to gedmatch.com and running various admixture calculators especially the Oracles you will see that you are about 50% East Asian.


  24. Hi,

    Thought I’d share my story as I had recently been tested with Ancestry and thought it was pretty fascinating that my DNA showed:

    99% Polynesia (Tongan/ Samoan)
    1% Melanesia (Fiji, Aborigine, PNG)

    I did do my research regarding how DNA works and how we get half from each parent and how all children will be different.

    I know my father is Tongan and can trace part of his linage to Fijian ancestry but that’s about 5 generations. And with my mother, her grandfather was Portuguese but he passed away young and also my grandmother who was half. They didn’t really ask much about their heritage which is pretty disappointing. My mother is from the island in Tonga of Vava’u which, back in those days, bustled with a lot of different foreigners and mostly Portuguese (honestly not too sure if it’s Brazilian or European) – Santos, Wolfgrams etc. I’m hoping to go to Tonga soon in hopes of tracking down my heritage. My first cousin on my mother’s side also did a test which showed traces of Scandanavian, Iberian Peninsula, Europe East. I’m hoping to get my parents tested too as well as my grandmother (: and I have 3rd, 4th cousins (Ancestry results) with the same traces.

    In regard to that, I’m often mistaken for being something other than a Poly when I meet new people. Some of my siblings and I look like we might be mixed with Asian/ Hawaiian. We don’t really have traits that relate to being Tongan except for our nose lol. And then the rest of my siblings and most of my father’s side have the typical Tongan traits as well as traits that show our Fijian side.

    Also, just wondering how Scandinavian even gets there?


    • Hi Lavinia,

      I thought I saw other Wolfgrams who got DNA tested as matches to both my mother & I. Interesting that 1% Melanesia did show up, or was that less than 1%? I was really curious if western Polynesians would sometimes get Melanesia showing up for them. You’re the first I heard. Usually when I look at my matches I can see what they get but generally. So when I see just POLYNESIA listed, I assumed that is 100% but maybe like in your case, it won’t show on my end MELANESIA too.

      Now when you say traces of Scandinavian, etc. for your cousin, they were all less than 2%? And my assumption is that the Scandinavian got into the DNA sample because one of their testees (there were only 18 of them) may have had maybe English or German background that was read as Scandinavian? I have British ancestry and also ancestors from the USA way before they had 26 states at least. But my mother and I get SCANDINAVIA showing up entirely at FTDNA, it varies at Ancestry and also at 23andme but they all show up having Scandinavia.


  25. My comment might be a little bit late to the game. But I did my DNA test and it said 1% Pacific islander, most likely Polynesian. I am pretty white – I was 99% European other than that. This Polynesian Gene showed up on my moms side of the family – they’ve always said they’re part Native American, but I couldn’t find anything to support that in our family tree. When I saw this Polynesian marker I thought maybe we are really part Asian or I thought maybe we really are part Native American, because there are some tribes that I have some pacific islander DNA… Maybe I just have this residual 1% – then I thought it must be a mistake, but one of my distant cousins on that side of the family also took the DNA test and she also has the Polynesian marker – the rest of her DNA is kind of different than mine because she is mainly Navajo and European. But since we both had Polynesian down… I don’t think it was a mistake.

    But now I’m just not sure if my Polynesian – 1% or is it really 1% Native American?

    My aunt on the other side of my family has Native American in her DNA, but I didn’t have any in mine. And it’s kind of strange because she’s blonde hair and blue eyed, I have a lighter hair, but very dark eyes and both of my parents are dark.


    • Hi Heather,

      I’m not NA but do get less than 1% of it. But I show up as 42% Polynesia, and at 23andme I have about 81% East Asian + 14% Oceanian, all components that could trigger the NA to show up. The same for my Salvadorian friend who gets less than 1% Oceanian showing up at 23andme. In your case, it could be just noise as those of strictly European and/or African American may get (less than) 1% of Polynesia.


  26. Hi, there!

    Why do you think “Polynesian” DNA shows up in Filipinos’ DNA results? Like, I know it’s because Filipinos and PI’s just share common ancestry, but do we Filipinos have ACTUAL PI blood in us? Because I noticed on another DNA testing site (I forget what it was called) that Filipinos’ PI results were much lower. Did Polynesian people migrate to the Philippines as well? Also, if Ancestry’s Filipino “Polynesian” results don’t count, then why are some people’s “Polynesian” percentage higher than others?



    • Hi Drea,

      The Polynesians did not migrate west towards the Philippines but continued moving east. The reason why Filipinos and other Southeast Asians who test at AncestryDNA.com get some percentage of POLYNESIA showing up is because the 18 Polynesians that Ancestry had used for their reference sample, like other Polynesians have Southeast Asian or more broadly East Asian background and that is due to our common ties from more than 7,000 yrs. ago when the Austronesian speaking people left the Taiwan area and slowly made their way throughout the Philippine archipelago and further south & eventually moving eastward towards Melanesia.

      For example, a lot of people will complain that they are British but they don’t have so much British ancestry showing up, but rather Scandinavian or something else. The way these biogeographical analysis works is that they take some samples, find out the origin of the samples and the rest of us who test are being compared to them. It means that so much percent of our genome is similar to sample A or sample B and both can be from entirely different continents. So it doesn’t necessarily mean to say that our ancestors came from the exact same place as reference sample A vs. sample B. But for some, sometimes that works, especially in my case where I am of Polynesian background so the 18 Polynesian samples would make sense for me, but not for anyone of Southeast Asian origin.


    • A lot of people that have no Polynesian ties (or East Asian) come up with Polynesian with <= 1%. Do you believe that this is simply due to error?

      Also, the majority or 100% of the Y Chromosome is Melanesian, correct? Would it he safe to assume that the Southeast Asian component is matrilineal while the patrilineal is Melanesian? This is based off of many academic articles and studies that I have read so I wonder what your opinion is. Basically, Melanesian replaced the Asian males and entered into a interracial union with the Asian females.

      What I don't understand is why people say that Polynesians originated in Asia when in fact the Polynesians were created once Melanesians got involved. Using this logic, one could also say that Polynesians originated in Melanesia. In fact that would make more sense sincd thats where the Asians and Melanesians cohabitated at the same time.

      Had either not been there then there would be no Polynesians.


      • Like with others, the less than 1% is nothing but statistical noise. But for some, that may be true but even those who have a small amount (of Polynesian) have come up with 0%. I know that happened recently to someone who transferred/uploaded to MyHeritage but I believe he did get a small percentage of Polynesia at Ancestry. Actually, that happened to two people that I know.

        I can’t remember the percentage but a lot of the academic research papers will say that with Y-DNA it is mostly Melanesian origin for Polynesians. I know of 2 Hawaiians who got an Asian Y-DNA and the same for one Maori while so far the Samoans & Tongans who tested their Y got the Asian Y-DNA. My maternal grandfather’s haplogroup is C-M38, which the C at least in this case is of Melanesian origin.

        And as for the Melanesian replacing the Asian males, from what a few of them suggested with the dominant Melanesian Y-DNA, it had to do with how matrilineal the Southeast Asian society was, therefore the men would travel with the women, or another way to look at it is that the Melanesian men left their homeland and migrated with the Southeast Asian women.

        You could say that Polynesians were born out of the Melanesian but not until the SEAs moved into Melanesia and continued to move on. Melanesians stayed in Melanesia where as the SEAs were the ones who migrated and continued to move further east into Polynesia which had no inhabitants until 4,5000 yrs ago or more.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. My parents are supposedly full blood Cambodian’s but I know that’s not true. Rumors has it that my dad is part Chinese and Vietnamese also. I know that I am 100% Asian. My sister decided to do the ancestry dna and the results showed that she is 18% Polynesian and 1% African the rest were broken up into East Asia and South Asia I think. Wish it would’ve been more specific. Would the Polynesian have been from the Chinese side?


    • Hi Tina. That sounds about right, 18%. I know Vietnamese people get around 15%. The Polynesian is a proxy for these different groups of Southeast Asia, which is why Cambodian would show some Polynesia + Asia East. If you were to transfer over your raw data to MyHeritageDNA.com (it’s fee), it will get rid of the Polynesia category, but can’t promise they will pinpoint the Chinese and Cambodian part. But give it a try and let me know what you get.


    • No, although I’ve heard some Samoans like one told me just yesterday afternoon that Samoans went to Hawaii. But they were referencing to the island name of Hawai’i, which I was told named after their island of Savai’i. But what I neglected to tell them was that throughout Polynesia, this ancient name exists. For Maoris, it is Hawaiki, and for Cook Island Maoris, it is ‘Avaiki. In Tahiti, it is also Havai’i but that name for Tahitians was replaced with the name of Ra’iatea.

      On the genetic level, we would see Hawaiians closer related to Tongans and Samoans if they were closely related. Instead, we are closer matched to Maoris and other eastern Polynesians.


      • I am a Hawaiian, what if I took a DNA test on Ancestry DNA and I get Tonga, Samoa in the Polynesian category? What does this mean? Is it possible for me as a Hawaiian somehow that I might have Samoan ancestry if I traced my ancestors back to thousand years ago or all the way from the beginning like the 1st century?


      • Hi Brennan,

        The tests cannot distinguish a Samoan from a Hawaiian, etc. It will only show “Polynesia” if you test at AncestryDNA or even at MyHeritageDNA. You will get DNA matches though to both Samoans, Tongans and other Polynesians. For Hawaiians, we are genetically closely matched to Maoris and other eastern Polynesians, while the Samoans, Tongans and other western Polynesians will be a genetic match but not as close as eastern Polynesians.


    • Tahiti and the Marquesas. Archeological and linguistic evidence points to Marquesas while our oral traditions talks about Tahiti as the other people who came and brought different things that the people in Hawaii were accustomed to.


      • Thereʻs no way to really distinguish the two, especially among ANY Polynesian as we are genetically alike. We can tell through autosomal matches that Hawaiians or other eastern Polynesians are genetically more alike rather than western Polynesians like Samoans.

        But if you are asking if there were any Samoans that migrated to Hawaii in recent years pre-European contact, there wasnʻt any. If there were, there should be some evidence of it, either archeologically and/or with autosomal DNA we would expect to see closer matches with each other. Our oral traditions do not mention ties to Samoa either, but we have many traditions about people coming from Polapola (Borabora), and Kahiki (Tahiti).


  28. Hi Kalani,
    Thanks for sharing. I am Taiwanese and my results show 91% East Asian and 9% Polynesian. I have no known Polynesians ancestors, although majority of Taiwanese people have indigenous blood. But although the indigenous people of Taiwan are part of the larger Austronesian umbrella, they belong to a different sub-group than Polynesians. I’m suspecting Ancestry DNA lumped all Austronesians together.

    It has been hypothesized that Taiwan was the launching pad for all Polynesians, since 3 of the 4 languages in the Polynesian language family are spoken among Taiwan’s aboriginals. So this is mighty confusing.


    • Hi Nelson,

      Are you an aboriginal Taiwanese? You do show 9% which is actually part of the Southeast Asian background. And it is true that there was an exodous from Taiwan and these people moved into the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia (to a certain extent) and continued towards the east after going into Near Oceania area.


      • The only evidence I have of being aboriginal Taiwanese other than this test, family lore that my mom looks kinda like it, and the fact that most Taiwanese people are to a degree.

        I have a Filipino friend who turned out about 2/3 East Asian and 1/3 Polynesian on the test, consistent with what you got. I wonder how much of the East Asian is due to Chinese admixture, since I know a lot of Filipinos have Chinese blood.


  29. Hi Kalani,

    I hope you don’t mind me reaching out and asking for your opinion, especially since you’ve addressed this in your many posts and thoughtful responses to other people who have asked. I am also very confused about my DNA results.

    As you mentioned in your article, a lot of Chinese people on AncestryDNA are showing up ~10% Polynesian. My Ancestry DNA results yielded similar results: 94% East Asian and 6% Polynesian.

    My DNA Land results yielded 86% East Asian; 14% South Asian (South Asian 12% and 1.7% Taiwanese)

    MyHeritage results yielded 91% Chinese/Vietnamese, 7.6% Japanese, and 1.1% Nepali.

    However, on various GedMatch calculators, I received a mixture of “Oceanic,” “Siberian,” “Southeast Asian” depending on the calculator.

    I’m just trying to reconcile how AncestryDNA would mix up the 6% Polynesian with the 14% South Asian that I received on DNA Land. In sum, do you think I am also like the other Chinese people who have tested on Ancestry and received false Polynesian positives?

    Thank you so much in advance for helping me in my journey to figure out my ancestry. My grandmother was adopted (abandoned young) and I’ve wanted to celebrate her by trying to understand as much of her unrecorded history as possible. Thank you also for sharing your wisdom, kindness, and patience with others.


    • Hi Mel,

      The 6% is the lowest I’ve seen for a Chinese if that is what you are. I just spoke to someone from Ancestry earlier this month and mentioned how despite this misleading category – Polynesia where those of Southeast Asian will get some Polynesia, their new genetic communities (called Migrations now) are helping redefine that. So that if you really do have Polynesian background, you will usually get the Polynesia migration.

      For example, Filipinos will get about 30% Polynesia but now with these migrations, they get Philippines/Guam in their migration.

      Also another way to tell, is that if you are Polynesian you will have a lot of Polynesians come up on your match list.


  30. Hi Kalani,

    I am so impressed with how quickly you respond and how you respond to EVERYONE. Thank you for the clarification about the migrations–interesting, because when I click on the “migrations” category, Hawai’i, Tonga, & Samoa are listed for me.

    Thank you so much again for all of your time spent researching and sharing your knowledge. I find the DNA literature extremely dense but you’ve managed to make it more digestible.

    Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones (if relevant.)

    Thank you again!!


  31. Oh, make sure that you see that community pop up under your POLYNESIA category and it is colored. If it’s not colored and is gray, then it’s not part of your community. If it is, then you have your answer! 🙂 And you should be able to find many Maoris and Hawaiians on your list.

    Happy Holidays to you too!


  32. Oh beautiful, it shows up colored! Brilliant. Though such a small percentage.. at least I won’t feel like I am culturally appropriating anymore.

    I look forward to reading through more of your posts!! Take care of yourself and hope you have lots of time to enjoy the Holiday Season in between helping everyone 🙂


      • Those names are part of my family tree! I looked on Ancestry and you are a match to my mom and we share a common ancestors…Holau & Nakapuai…my 3rd Great Granmother was there daughter Luukia Kekahuna Holau….I really enjoy reading all of the information you provide!!


      • Aloha e Philip!

        Luckily I recognize your name (in your email, at least on my end) and you are Townsend/Blanchard –> Rodrigues –> Mollena. Maelyn Mollena is my classmate, but not sure if you’re related to her too?



  33. Kalani,

    Can’t tell you enough how brilliant you are!! I found a match with Lotus Kekahuna. Also spent a good 15 minutes on AncestryDNA representative. Unfortunately she was not as knowledgeable as you are about the Polynesian/Southeast Asian dilemma but I look forward to connecting more with Lotus to find out more about my heritage.

    Can’t thank you enough 🙂


    • Cool! You can use from that match the Shared Matches (I think that’s what it’s called) to see who else you and Lotus share matches with. If Lotus put a tree up, and you see no Chinese ancestry, assume that you are connected on the Hawaiian side.

      And was your grandmother born in Hawaii?


  34. Hi Kalani!

    You are a wealth of knowledge and advice. I wish I could say the same about myself. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about my family history. I just know that my grandmother was abandoned somewhere near the border of China, so perhaps she’s not the one with the Polynesian ancestry. I wish I could ask more, but unfortunately she’s no longer with us and no one else in our family has really felt the urge to investigate.

    I don’t mean to generalize–I really admire how Hawaiians, particularly the Kanaki Maoli, are able to trace back and celebrate their familial history through detailed recording and investigation. I’ve always thought of that as a form of protest, resilience, and strength against colonialism and what a powerful way! Ultimately, I hope to celebrate and honor my ancestors the way you have by investigating your roots and helping others investigate theirs.


    • Ah, interesting. Ok, because I was trying to remember what you mentioned about her. So that would make sense, and yes, it has to be through another line, but that you’re not aware of?


  35. Glad I came across this page. My mother is from Southern China and my dad is a European mix, mostly German. I just got my AncestryDNA results yesterday: 41% Asia East, 35% Europe West, 7% Polynesia, %5 Ireland, and then everything else is 3% or lower, including Scandinavia (<1%), lol. I was doubting my mom, who said the Polynesian results were wrong, but after reading these posts, I guess she’s right! Thanks much for the insights!


    • Glad that this explained things for you. I have a co-worker, full Chinese, but she had 13% Polynesia, so on the higher end. I was told in December that they will put in an Asia Southeast category, although nothing was mentioned as to when that will happen. That should correct this problem, I hope.


  36. I was born in Hong Kong with Asian looking parents. My ancestors are inhabitants of Hong Kong originally from mainland China thousands years ago.

    I got a bit of European-Asian mixed look, and so for some of my relatives in my generation and my last two generations. I always want to find our whether I have European blood in me.

    I have got my result back from AncestryDNA with 90% Chinese and 10% (9 to 12 %) Polynesia. I feel confused of the Polynesia bit as it does not give me details of any European component.

    How can I find out?



    • Hi. Yes, that is normal, Chinese people will get about 10% – 13% POLYNESIA, but they don’t have Polynesian ancestry. It’s because Polynesians have Southeast Asian background and there is no SOUTHEAST ASIAN category so the proxy is the POLYNESIA category.

      So you have no European but who was European, a great-grandparent or further back? Autosomal DNA (like with AncestryDNA) can test 5 – 6 generations. For the ethnicity part, it’s about the same, you may see the results for a bit longer.


      • Hi Kalani

        I am impressed and thankful to your prompt reply!

        My Grandmother from my mother side looks a bit mixed, so does her younger brother, my Mum’s younger sister, my sister, myself and one of my cousins. That is all I have got to give me the doubt of having any mixed blood in my family. Other than that I have no information to trace back. My parents are pretty Asian looking. I have no idea who was European and how many generations back if there was. That’s exactly the very reason why I did the test and trying to find out.

        Is there any test which can help me further?

        Thanks a lot!


      • Phenotype, or someone’s looks/features aren’t the best way to indicate genotype or one’s actual DNA. We’ve seen this happen several times. A good example is my co-worker who is Mexican but very fair complected. Having experienced seeing what Mexicans would have as far as their Native American percentages go, I assumed my co-worker would have even less than the usual 25% or so that I’d see. Turns out she was 40% and much more than my supervisor who got 24% Native American and isn’t nearly as light complected as my other co-worker.

        So if your grandmother had the ancestry it definitely would have shown up in the DNA results.


  37. I made a comment to Ancestry.com about the sample size of the Polynesian group being 18. They said: “thank you for you feedback and for the suggestion. When dealing with the DNA testing, unfortunately things can be a bit more complicated than this and it can take a long time for the DNA technology to advance, so that we can get more details about a specific ethnicity. That being said, we would like to assist you with the interpretation of your result. What exactly do you mean when you say that ‘the sample size is 18 people’? Are you referring to any of our support articles?” I think I may have read this on your website, but can’t find it now on the Ancestry website. Do you know how I can access it? I found their response a bit patronizing BTW.


    • Hi Zana,

      If you contacted them directly via email, etc. then yes, I can see why they responded that way. I have brought this up with Julie Granka, Ph.D. a couple of years ago and then reminded Anna Swayne when I saw her last month in San Diego about the effect of the small sampling size and creation of a “Polynesia” category without a Southeast Asian category and the effects that it has or how people are confused by such results.

      Anyway, if you go to view your ancestry results and see POLYNESIA, or any category, you can click on “continue reading” then “read more.” At the top of the page, click on GENETIC DIVERSITY. You will see that it says “From a collection of 18 people” and next to it a ? that you can click on. There will be a pop-up window and you can click on: Learn more about the AncestryDNA Reference Panel

      It will then list all the number of samples for each category.

      Below that is a link to see the white paper as well.


  38. Interesting reads thanks! I feel bad when peoples DNA tests don’t match their family tree and they get really upset and sad or mad about it. I have been trying to study about it and probably don’t understand it all but it is a new and developing science. Also I have learned that 10 generations ago or roughly 200 years ago we each only have 10% of those ancestors DNA. So it is not a full picture of all of our ancestor’s DNA but the small portion we have inherited. My sisters have had their DNA tested too and we all have some differences. It is not that the testing is fake but we just have inherited different portions of the DNA. I am the most Scotch/Irish and my one sister more English. Gedmatch is great to study different info ancient and modern. I have some more ancient Asian DNA on there. Up to 5 % in some studies. Some Oceania and a type of Polynesian I had to look up. It was some kind of ancient Polynesian. Could that be just from the old Asian part of my European DNA? And I came up with the Ancestry 1% Polynesian. Also we never had traditions of Native American DNA but we found some ancestors in the 1700s of the Northeastern tribes. There is no question. I was told it was probably too far back to show. According to the 10 generation info we would have less than 10% chance of having their DNA. Would some Native American DNA show up as Asian or Polynesian? The Gedmatch sties that use the Harvard studies show I do have Native American DNA. Or is that some of the Ancient Asian popping up too? Don’t be discouraged people if you have Native American ancestors far enough back it just may be too far back to show. I believe it is a fascinating area of study. It is true for what it is. It should be used with family research for those who can trace their family back. I believe more and more info will be coming out. Thank you for your thoughts!!


    • Hi Shirley,

      So the way it works, they say that with autosomal tests (like with AncestryDNA) they last about 5 – 6 generations. Sometimes it could be more. Basically at the 6th generation you share about 3.125% of your 3x great-grandparent. ABOUT. It’s random. And we have (usually) 32 3x great-grandparents.

      But with any biogeographical analysis, what it does it compare your genome with their database of reference population samples that they’ve gathered. It varies on the company based on their reference samples, the size (population numbers), where they obtained their samples and of course the algorithms that are used.

      So no one is discouraged as we know based on genealogy who we are. But what others are not aware of is how these tests are GUESSING their ancestry based on what I just said. Nothing more.

      To understand more about Population Genetics, you can watch Lynn Jorde’s presentation as it is very detailed and an excellent source!


  39. Hello Kalani,
    Thank you for sharing all this information. it’s been very interesting to read though such a wealth of information. I recently took the Ancestry DNA test. As with many, I was curious to see how accurate my family tree reflected though my genetics. Before I took the test and utilizing what I understood of my heritage this is what I expected
    Generalized Expectation
    62% Polynesian, (Hawaiian)
    12% Asia East, (Chinese)
    roughly 32% European, (German, Irish).

    I Finally received my results yesterday 01/25/2018, which reads…

    64% Polynesian (Hawaiian)
    11% Scandinavian
    10% Asian East (Chinese)
    4% Europe West (German)
    4% Asian Central
    3% Great Britain “Irish”
    My expectation from my understanding of my family tree was relatively accurate with the majority of the region reflecting in my results, as well as the major category percentages, with some cool surprises, (Asia Central). My question is in reference to the 11% Scandinavian and whether that does in fact reflect European or is that a proxy for Polynesian? I would never have guessed my Polynesian side would be any higher than the 60+ range, being my mother is half Hawaiian and my father is roughly in the 70% range). I’m associating my overall European ancestry to have probably included Asia central which bring my European amount to 11%. To which I expected double the amount. I appreciate our insight
    Thank you.


    • Sorry my general expectation should have read
      60% Polynesian, (Hawaiian)
      10% Asia East, (Chinese)
      roughly 30% European, (German, Irish).


    • Aloha e Aaron. I just logged in when I saw you just got your results. With me, predicted 4th – 6th and with my mom predicted 2nd – 3rd.

      So, if you have some Chinese in your, depending on the amount, that could show up under Polynesia as well. Chinese are reporting about 10% Polynesia. So if you are half Chinese, expect about 5% of Polynesia to be part of your Chinese side and about 40% Asia East to cover the rest of the Chinese side.

      Having said that, from what you said about what you are genealogically, your DNA results aren’t that far off with your Hawaiian and Chinese side. Although what you wrote (genealogically) comes out to 106%.

      On the continental level (which Ancestry no longer shows) it’s more obvious. But looking at your results, I’d say your Asia Central, GB/Ireland, Europe West combined is for your European side and that’s only 11%, if that seems right? And you were right about Asia Central

      Also, you can transfer to MyHeritageDNA.com for free. FTDNA you can transfer and they have a special right now to be able to see the ancestry portion, it’s $10 when you use a coupon code up until Sunday. You can email me at mamoahina (it’s at gmail) for more details.

      Also, GEDmatch.com is free if you want more matches. And check out the Polynesian DNA group on Facebook.



  40. Thank you so much for your insight. Its greatly appreciated.
    My mother is half Hawaiian half European GB/Irish. My father is roughly 70 Hawaiian (I have not looked closely enough to determine what amount but look forward to that soon), The remaining German which I have just learned is through my
    GGG Grandfather making up about 3% I believe? very close to what my results actually were, and what I assume is the remaining Chinese taking up the rest. I will definitely have to take a look at my tree to see where this starts. So with the 11% Scandinavian aspect of my DNA results, is it presumably Polynesian?


    • I’m going to guess the 11% Scandinavia is still part of your European.

      I know that MyHeritage also has a Polynesian category but they tend to inflate those amounts and will significantly reduce your European results as it did with me and my family members.


      • Hey Kalani,

        so I uploaded my information to MyHeritage, and it did exactly as you predicted. My Polynesian percentage increased from 64% to 85.3%. It looks as if they took the 11% Scandinavian and the 10% Asia East Ancestry DNA gave and stuck it all into my Polynesian category.


  41. Pingback: Ancestry updates their ethnicity yet again | Polynesian DNA

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