Beaten in Parliament but up for a referendum fight, opponents of euthanasia say they'll wage a "major war" in their bid to prevent assisted dying for the terminally ill becoming law.
A late-night sitting of parliament passed the End of Life Choice Bill yesterday, which sends euthanasia to a public poll alongside the 2020 election.
The bill passed 69-51 in a conscience vote.
National MP Maggie Barry, who led the failed campaign to defeat the bill in parliament, vowed to block euthanasia becoming law in the referendum.
"It is going to be a major war," she said.
"The battle tonight was lost but we are now in a major war to tell the people of New Zealand what this bill might mean for the vulnerable, the disabled and those who are afraid of their lives.
"I feel very sad for the people we've tried to give voice to ... they sit on my shoulder and tell me they are frightened and I believe them."
The bill's proponent, ACT party leader David Seymour, had a swift retort for the former broadcaster and gardening TV show host.
"I think it's about time for her to get back to the garden, where I think she'll be very successful again," he said.
Seymour is just the latest member of Parliament to carry the can for the issue in New Zealand.
Two previous bills have reached the floor of the Parliament and lost - in 1995 and 2003 - with the most recent debate defeated by a solitary vote.
The current proposal has been tightened through a four-year consultation process both inside and outside parliament, where it received a record high number of public submissions.
Seymour is confident the poll will echo public surveys that show "overwhelming support" and pass in 2020.
"It's great that we got this far and delivered New Zealanders choice," he said.
"Our job is going to be to ensure that we have proper information out there about how the bill really works ... on that basis I think the
New Zealand public will welcome it.
"It makes me proud of our country that we can have this debate, and we can actually get progress in becoming a more free and compassionate society."
Bobbie Carroll, who was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2016, watched the debate from the gallery and cheered the result.
"I have terminal cancer and the passing of this bill gives me huge relief," she said.
"I have no intention of cutting my life very short. Maybe four or five days. And that's fabulous, I'm elated."