For Fiji though it was history as they made their third consecutive World Cup semi-final, setting up a date with defending champions Australia in Brisbane next Friday.
Fiji enjoyed a strong start with hard running and a willingness to offload troubling the Kiwis defence with errors and penalties allowing the visitors to dominate territory and possession.
The Kiwis continued to hurt themselves with more errors and poor option-taking stifling their attack in the second-half, although they clung on while wing Jordan Rapana spent 10 minutes in the sinbin for a professional foul.
A knock-on from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was then compounded by an offside penalty, with Fiji looking to the posts again to re-assume the lead with 18 minutes to go.
No side scored more points than Fiji in the group stage and they thought they had taken a fifth-minute lead through Brayden Williame, only for replays to show the Catalans Dragons player had failed to ground the ball.
Kevin Naiqama (c), 2.
Fiji 4 (Apisai Koroisau 1, Taane Milne 1 goals) def. New Zealand 2 (Shaun Johnson 1 goal) at Wellington Regional Stadium.
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They became the first tier-one nation to ever lose to a tier-two nation after Tonga staged a sensational 14-point comeback in the final pool leg, before things ended in disaster for the competition powerhouse in a 4-2 try-less encounter against Fiji.
The favourite:While the shock of last week has put the Kiwis aspirations of featuring in the Final into question, the quality of the home side should be too much for the flair of Fiji to contend with.
The New Zealanders know they need to boost their second-half display. Ten minutes to go, five minutes to go and still Fiji hung on.
"We can match the Tongans in terms of the number of spectators because we have a lot of Fijians living in that part of NZ particularly in the lower harbour areas of North Island".
The Kiwis' second-half slip-up against Tonga last week after leading 16-2 at halftime, led to an upset 28-22 win by Tonga.
Questions hang over coach David Kidwell's future with the result the Kiwis seventh defeat in 10 starts since he was appointed last September, and the New Zealand Rugby League set to review his position once his current contract ends in January.
Kiwis: Tuivasa-Sheck, Watene-Zelezniak, Whare, Takairangi, Rapana, Martin, Johnson, Taupau, Levi, Waerea-Hargreaves, Mannering, Tapine, Blair.