What is a Genealogy DNA Test?

A genealogical DNA test could help you find genetic relatives and expand your genealogy research.


Types of Tests Available

  • Autosomal DNA (atDNA) ancestry percentages and cousin matching
  • Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) maternal line only
  • Y chromosome (Y-DNA) surname line (men only test)


Where You Can Get Your Tests Done and the Tests Performed


DNA Sample Collection

There are two main types of DNA sample collection:

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


Your Results

It can be quite overwhelming when your results are returned.     

  • DNA does not lie,  so be prepared for the unexpected.  
  • Watch the latest videos from the company you have tested with. 
  • Take your time - there is no rush.


Look at Your Results

  • Who are your "in common with" matches?  
  • Do they have a tree?  
  • Do they share Surnames or Locations?    
  • Reach out to them with a brief friendly note,  something along the lines of: "Hello ..................., My name is ................................ from Waikamokau, New Zealand.  According to our DNA results with ..................  we are "2nd cousins" I looked at my tree and my presumption is that we are related through ...................... &  ......................  I would love to connect with you and compare notes. Kind Regards"
  • Make notes of whom you have contacted. 
  • Make notes of the cM - the closer the match generationally,  the more shared centimorgans (cMs).
  • Make notes of the common relative or which line you think the connection is through. 


What Next??

Get your parents, grandparents, and siblings tested. You get 50% of each parent’s DNA. Since DNA is inherited at random,  siblings and cousins may have inherited segments of DNA that you didn’t, so they could match people you don’t. Testing older generations helps extend your research further back in time and target family lines more specifically. 


Other Sites

Once you feel comfortable with the original site on which you tested,  download your raw DNA from that site and upload it to other sites, such as:

GEDmatch provides Autosomal DNA and genealogical analysis tools for amateur and professional researchers and genealogists. Most tools are free, but they do provide some premium tools for users who wish to help support them with contributions. You will need to upload your DNA and / or genealogical (GEDCOM) data to make use of the tools here. 

Promthease is a genetic health information alternative,  you can upload your Autosomal DNA and they provide you with a report that is available to download from their server.  This is only available for a short period of time and there is a small cost involved.

Family Tree DNA you can transfer your AncestryDNA, 23andMe or MyHeritage autosomal DNA to Family Tree DNA and discover new matches. There is a cost involved to use all the tools. 

My Heritage has also started allowing your Autosomal results to be transferred.


Further Reading

Both of these books are available through the NZSG Library


  • Blaine Bettinger's book "The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy"
  • Kerry Farmer's book "DNA for Genealogists"


Other Resources


Facebook Groups and Pages