Lancashire wicket keeper Jos Buttler hit 79 off 65 balls as England fell to a three-wicket defeat in the first one-day international in Hamilton on Sunday, in a game that was marked by the return of Ben Stokes.
It was the first game back for the Durham all-rounder as he was not considered for selection by the ECB after he was charged with affray by the CPS following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.
Batting first, England struggled to 284-8 off their 50 overs on a very slow and low pitch which the batsman struggled to pick when pace was taken off the ball.
Test captain Joe Root also made 71, his 21st ODI half-century, on his return after he was rested for the T20 series.
As the conditions changed and the floodlights took effect, the 285 required never looked in doubt thanks to a 113 from Ross Taylor and the hosts found the ball coming on to the bat a lot easier.
Tom Latham joined Taylor at the crease scoring 79 in a 178 partnership that settled any nerves that New Zealand had.
The hosts were under a little pressure towards the end of their innings, when captain Eoin Morgan brought on leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who has just announced he is not playing red ball cricket this season for Yorkshire, in the 46th over taking a wicket and only conceding three runs, leaving the hosts requiring 41 off the last 4 overs.
But Rashid returned for the 48th and was targeted by all-rounder Mitchell Santner, conceding 16 runs meaning that New Zealand only needed 18 off the last two overs.
Former England spinner Graeame Swann was critical of Rashid telling BBC TMS: “Rashid’s last over was very poor. Buttler told him what to bowl and he bowled a medium pacer in the slot. That was appalling advice. From then on, Santner had his eye in and New Zealand had their tails up.”
The hosts knocked off the remaining runs with four balls to spare to take a 1-0 lead in the five match series.
Speaking to TMS, England captain Eoin Morgan said: “When we broke that partnership between Ross Taylor and Tom Latham we were in the game, but didn’t quite have enough in the tank. New Zealand were the better side and just got the upper hand. It was a great game of cricket to be part of.”