James Anderson marked his return to action with a record-breaking 529th international wicket as England pressurised New Zealand with the new ball at Seddon Park.
Anderson, playing for the first time since the Nagpur Test in December after being rested for the intervening limited-overs games, bowled BJ Watling with the last ball of his first over here. He therefore went ahead of Ian Botham as England's all-time leading wicket-taker across all international formats.
The early breakthrough also enhanced England's prospects of defending 258 all out in this first of three one-day internationals. After 15 overs, New Zealand were 44 for one but minus Watling's opening partner Martin Guptill too after he pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring strain and had to retire hurt shortly afterwards.
He seemed likely to bat again only if absolutely necessary, a situation which probably also applied to Mitchell McClenaghan, who took four for 56 in England's innings but could not finish his final over because of a side strain.
Jonathan Trott (68), Ian Bell (64) and Joe Root (56) had laid the foundations for England's total in stands of 84 and 89 for the second and third wickets. But when they were gone, and the big hitters had their chance to capitalise, the anticipated big finish did not materialise.
Alastair Cook went early to a good ball from McClenaghan, bowled through the gate in defence by one that held its line rather than swinging away.
Bell was adventurous, and had some luck. On 26, he mistimed a slog-sweep in Nathan McCullum's first over and was dropped by Watling. Bell completed his 50 from 67 balls with a chip from the crease off Andrew Ellis straight over long-on. But soon afterwards, up the wicket to try to manufacture runs off James Franklin, he edged behind.
Root was reprieved on 32 when the economical Kyle Mills thought he had him caught behind, as did umpire Gary Baxter, only for DRS to overturn the decision. Trott went selflessly, bowled making room in the powerplay - only for Eoin Morgan to follow him for just a single when he speared a low catch to point, very well held by Guptill.
Root posted the quickest of England's 50s, from 58 balls but containing just four fours. Jos Buttler hit two sixes off just 13 balls. But immediately after the second, crashing McClenaghan over wide long-on off the back foot, he toe-ended a full-toss straight to extra-cover.
When Root also went trying to slog, bowled by Franklin, England were in danger of falling disappointingly short. The tail chipped in, though, to help salvage a still below-par 68 for seven in the last 10 available overs.