Kiwi Polemicist

December 3, 2008

The New Zealand government is holding 2.1 million blood samples taken from citizens

Heel-prick blood samples have been taken from babies since the 1960s, and the government has been keeping them indefinitely since 1969. Thus the government has a blood sample – commonly called a Guthrie card – from practically every person born in New Zealand since 1969; that’s approximately 2,175,000 people. To put it another way, the government is holding body parts taken from approximately 2,175,000 people.

The implications of this are enormous:

  • these blood samples constitute a DNA database and there is nothing to stop the government if it wishes to extract the information from that database. Indeed, paragraph 7.4 of a report from the Privacy Commissioner quotes Peter Dunne as saying that the Guthrie card collection might be “a powerful weapon in the fight against crime”.
  • the New Zealand government has previously tried to introduce identity cards and it is technically feasible for them to put your DNA data on an ID card or link it to an ID card. Your drivers license is effectively an identity card.
  • the cards can be accessed with a court subpoena and have been used to prove paternity on at least one occasion
  • the police may use them to identify deceased or missing persons or for “other legitimate purposes” , which is obviously wide open to abuse. If you think our police are trustworthy, have a talk to Arthur Allan Thomas who was framed by them.
  • the blood samples could be used for medical research, and the Privacy Act does not apply to medical samples according to paragraph 6.4 of the Privacy Commissioner’s report. Data about the baby and mother is held along with the cards.

These blood samples hold a huge amount of personal information, and trusting the state to properly use personal information is like putting a dog and a steak in a closed room and expecting to find the steak untouched the next day. If an adult gets a blood test done the sample is destroyed after a few days and I believe that the same should be done with the Guthrie cards.

The good news is that you can request your Guthrie card and/or your child’s card to be returned, which I strongly advise you to do so before the information is misused: don’t give steaks to mongrels. Click here to view and print the form for this.




  1. Good job. I have been meaning to do this and now I don’t have to search for the form.

    Comment by Nigel Kearney — December 3, 2008 @ 7:39 am

  2. Thank you Nigel, glad I could help.

    Comment by kiwipolemicist — December 3, 2008 @ 7:56 am

  3. […] DNA samples from all arrestees, NZ headed the same way This week’s theme is DNA: in my earlier post I wrote about the New Zealand government’s genetic database in the form of blood samples […]

    Pingback by UK keeps DNA samples from all arrestees, NZ headed the same way « Kiwi Polemicist — December 4, 2008 @ 11:52 pm

  4. […] purposes. This is an evil violation of personal and property rights, just as bad as the fact that the state is holding 2.1 million blood samples taken from citizens. Just as with the blood samples, the state is able to form a DNA database from body parts if it so […]

    Pingback by The state can steal parts of your body: here’s how to make a protest « Kiwi Polemicist — December 30, 2008 @ 10:14 am

  5. […] the government, which is an invasion of privacy and an extra cost, not to mention the fact that the state loves to gather private information whenever it can. Knowledge aids […]

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