October 12, 2016
More to Maori identity than DNA
A Maori social scientist says DNA tests aren’t going to give people a Maori identity.
Dr Carla Houkamau took part in presentation with an Ancestry DNA’s Brad Argent at Auckland Library last night looking at what happens when people discover unexpected things about themselves from their DNA.
She says the New Zealand census has three questions on ethnicity which generates a range of data – what ethnic group or groups people identity with, whether they have parents, grandparents or other ancestors who are Maori, and what iwi they affiliate to.
Last census about 110,000 people said they were Maori but did not know their iwi, about 70,000 with Maori whakapapa did not identify as Maori, and 4000 people without a Maori ancestor felt Maori.
"I can only hypothesise but it could be that perhaps they might be whangai-ed into a Maori family or they 're married to a Maori and their children are Maori and therefore that's a much closer relationship to have with ethnic group Maori. I feel that there are tensions around who should be in and who should be out and it's a conversation that I don't know if we are ever going to resolve those issues but it's definitely become more complex because diversity is accelerating" she says.
Dr Houkamau says only about 4 percent of Ancestry DNA’s New Zealand customers were Maori.
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