Revised July 2013
Corrections (with sources) are welcome. The webmaster is a DNA hobbyist who lives in
No Known “Hawaiian” DNA
DNA testing as a tool for genealogists has become popular but there are limitations to what DNA can tell you. If you are only interested in testing to establish your ancient Hawaiian ancestry, it is important to understand that while there is some information about the haplogroups -- deep ancestry going back thousands of years -- of ancient Polynesian DNA, there is NO known DNA that is specifically or exclusively Hawaiian.
Until 2010, testing was restricted to only direct maternal (mtDNA) or direct paternal (Y-DNA) lines. Males and females have mtDNA from their mother, but only males have Y-DNA (hence a male member of the family is needed for that test).
There is now an AUTOSOMAL DNA test that everyone – males and females – can use in their genealogical research. This test looks at close relationships along all ancestral lines and is not restricted to only the paternal (Y-DNA) or maternal (mtDNA) lines. Anyone, regardless of their gender, will be able to match to male and female cousins from any of their family lines in the past five generations. Linked blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes are matched between two people. As with our Y-DNA and mtDNA projects, the database for this test will need to grow. In the beginning you may not have any/many matches and the matches may appear closer than they are (see remarks below under AUTOSOMAL). Hopefully many of our Y-DNA and mtDNA participant pioneers will be able to invest in this test and enhance the database. (FAMILY FINDER is the name of this test at FTDNA).
mtDNA Haplogroup B
This lineage is found in eastern and southeastern Eurasia, Native American
Important: The above mutations are
based on the
1) Haplogroup C2 [M38]
This is the haplogroup of about 34% who report their paternal line as Polynesian.
C2 is found in Polynesia,
2) Haplogroup O [M122]
This is the haplogroup of about 24% who report their paternal line as Polynesian.
O is typical of populations of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and culturally Austronesian regions of Oceania [includes Polynesia], with a moderate distribution in
3) Haplogroup K [M9]
This is the haplogroup of about 18% who report their paternal line as Polynesian.
K is an old lineage presently found only at low frequencies in Africa, Asia, and in the South Pacific. One descendent line of this lineage is restricted to aboriginal Australians, while another is found at low frequency in southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the
Sources for the above:
For more on this subject, see these papers and references therein:
Oppenheimer, S. and M. Richards. 2001
Fast Trains, Slow Boats, and the Ancestry of the Polynesian Islanders. Science Progress 84(3):157-181.
According to this paper, and/or references therein, an mtDNA sequence referred to the Polynesian Motif is found almost exclusively in
Kayser, et al, 2006
Melanesian and Asian Origins of Polynesians: mtDNA and Y Chromosome Gradients Across the Pacific
Molecular Biology and Evolution 2006 23(11):2234-2244; doi:10.1093/molbev/msl093
and Supplementary Material - Supplementary Tables S1–S5 and Figures S1 and S2
Information regarding haplogroups is subject to change as scientific research on this subject progresses over time.
Additional information at the link listed below under
Hawaiian Ancestry ~ Native Hawaiian Direct Paternal or Maternal Line
"Just wondering ... why no data on Hawaiian natives . . . . ."
about all the other ethnic groups in
That is a very large and complicated subject! For now, see the remarks at the link listed below under:
Hawaiian Islanders ~ All Ethnic Groups
Many people wish to DNA test to learn more about their personal genealogy and/or ancient ancestry. This is a pioneer field and there is much to be learned. Many hobbyists have begun surname projects or geographical projects. One benefit of these group projects is a reduced rate for some of the tests. At this time, there are few surname projects for names associated with the various diverse ethnic populations living in
The project administrators of the below projects are genealogy hobbyists -
not scientists - using DNA as one of several resources to further their various
genealogy and/or anthrogenealogical interests.
None are employed by FTDNA, nor do they, or their projects, receive any
form of compensation, kickbacks, etc., from tests ordered at FTDNA. They are willing to share with, and learn
with, others with
When you visit the below sites, please read all of the information before contacting the project administrator.
UPDATE – Now that autosomal tests are available the below project distinctions do not apply. If you have a Native Hawaiian line and want to order Family Finder (FTDNA), order through the Hawaiian Ancestry Project.
Hawaiian Ancestry ~ Native Hawaiian
Direct Paternal or Maternal Line
This project is for persons whose direct maternal or direct paternal line is Native Hawaiian. It is NOT required that you be 100% Native Hawaiian or that both your maternal and paternal lines be Native Hawaiian. Either the direct maternal or direct paternal line meets the requirement. The project requirement is based on the limitations of DNA testing, as known today, and should NOT be considered a definition of Hawaiian ancestry. If your direct maternal or paternal line is not Native Hawaiian, you may participate via the Hawaiian Islanders project. Direct maternal/paternal lines are described at the below link - please read all of the information at this link:
Hawaiian Islanders ~ All Ethnic
This project is for all members of all ethnic groups who have roots in the
Please read all of the information at this link.
When you visit the above sites, please read all of the information before contacting the project administrator.
Direct maternal line
This refers to an unbroken line of maternal grandmothers. In the case of Native Hawaiians, this means that your mother's mother's mother's mother, was Hawaiian - going back before the arrival of Captain Cook (about eleven generations). If so, you carry the mtDNA of that line going back to ancestral
Direct paternal line
This refers to an unbroken line of paternal grandfathers. In the case of Native Hawaiians, this means that your father's father's father's father was Hawaiian - going back before the arrival of Captain Cook (about eleven generations). If so, you carry the Y-DNA of that line going back to ancestral
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Hawaiian Roots - Genealogy for Hawaiians
Honolulu County Genealogical Society
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Autosomal tests such as FTDNA's Family Finder (or 23andme's Relative Finder) may show matches that are erroneously reported as being closer that they really are.
The Family Finder DNA test locates segments of DNA that are shared by two people. This information is then used by the computer to suggest how closely the two people are related: siblings, first cousins, second cousins, etc.
However, people whose ancestors were relatively isolated genetically usually share DNA from multiple ancestors. This will "trick" the Family Finder computation, which will systematically tend to predict that two Hawaiians are more closely related than they may actually be.
This phenomenon was first noticed among the Ashkenazi Jewish DNA tests, which seemed to show too many close relatives. The Ashkenazim have over the generations tended to marry within their community.
Here is how the situation is explained in the Family Tree DNA FAQ [as of November 2012]:
'Q: How does it affect my results if some of my ancestors married their relatives? faq id: 621
A: You may appear more closely related to your matches than you actually are. The impact to Family Finder results varies. It depends on how closely related these family members were, the frequently of marriages between your ancestors, and how recently they occurred. Notably, the greatest impact to calculations comes from endogenous populations where the frequency of intermarriage is high."
To summarize, as a result of frequent intermarriage, a Family Finder cousin match may show a total value of shared DNA composed from the combination of different lines. That is, they are a more distant cousin who is related in multiple ways.
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Haplogroup B with Malagasy Motif.
In addition to SE Asia and the Pacific, the Polynesian Motif is also found in Madagascar [see Soodyall, Jenkins, Stoneking; Nature Genetics, Vol.10, 377, (1995)].
Note: A full sequence mtDNA test is needed to confirm this motif (that mtDNA test is referred to as the FGS at FTDNA).
Using full mtDNA sequences, Razafindrazaka et. al. found two additional
markers in the coding region that appear to be unique to the B4a1a1a from
Razafindrazaka, et.al., European Journal of Human Genetics, Vol.18, 575, (2010).
The motif [appeared] as "B4a1a1a2" on the 7 February 2011 (Build
11) mtDNA tree at www.phylotree.org .
African American connection:
Some self-identified as African Americans have the "Polynesian Motif" in their mtDNA. That is, they are in haplogroup B4a1a1a, and get low resolution HVS1 and 2 matches to Hawaiians, New Zealanders, etc.
These mutations were absent in the Polynesian-Polynesian samples the authors looked at, but present in every one of the Malagasy samples.
At least two African American FTDNA customers who have had the full sequence
mtDNA test done have the Malagasy Motif. The conclusion is that their maternal line
most likely comes from
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