The Ferns launched the post Maria Folau era in style, beginning the Nations Cup with a comfortable 64-48 victory over England in Nottingham on Monday (NZ time).
New Zealand were missing 562 caps from their World Cup winning side, who tasted glory in Liverpool last July, with Folau and Casey Kopua both retired and usual captain Laura Langman and Katrina Rore rested for this series.
Noeline Taurua's side produced an encouraging start to 2020 and the new World Cup cycle with Maia Wilson, who started in Folau's vacant goal shoot bib, shining in a rare start.
Wilson, who has battled for consistency and accuracy at international level, produced the best game of her 11-test Ferns career, landing 27/29 and regularly making herself available under the post.
The Northern Stars player, who has sometimes battled with conditioning in the past, has put in the hard work in the gym and training court and produced the kind of performance she's long been capable of at this level.
In the first meeting between these sides since July's Netball World Cup semifinal, where the Ferns broke England hearts, winning 47-45, it was again New Zealand who emerged victorious.
England were also without a stack of their star performers with Geva Mentor, Serena Guthrie, and shooting combo, Jo Harten and Helen Housby, all not involved in this series.
The Ferns were dealt a blow before the game with confirmation defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson ruptured her Achilles tendon during a training match.
Sokolich-Beatson is travelling home to New Zealand and will be set for a long spell on the sidelines.
It loomed as a crunch series for Sokolich-Beatson, who was set for extended court-time with Kopua retired and Rore not featuring.
Wilson was handed first crack replacing the retired Folau at goal shoot, alongside new Ferns skipper Ameliaranne Ekenasio.
Gina Crampton, Shannon Saunders and Karin Burger were preferred in the midcourt with Phoenix Karaka getting the starting nod at goal defence next to Jane Watson.
Wilson made a bright start to the game as New Zealand took a 15-11 advantage into the second quarter.
She benefited from some accurate delivery from Saunders and Crampton and converted nicely, landing all 12 of her first quarter attempts.
The sides traded goals for most of the opening term before the Ferns capitalised from England mistakes late in the quarter to push ahead on the scoreboard.
Taurua spoke about giving players opportunities in this series and despite Wilson's strong first quarter play, she was replaced by Te Paea Selby-Rickit for the second term. Both players will split time at goal shoot in this series.
Whitney Souness also entered the court to begin the second quarter, replacing Crampton at wing attack.
New Zealand were seamless with the two changes, starting the second quarter the stronger of the two sides. By midway through the second quarter, they had built a 24-16 lead with England guilty of throwing the ball away and making silly errors on attack.
The Ferns had a sloppy patch to close out the first half with England scoring five straight goals to chip into the lead and claw it back to 25-23.
Taurua went back to Wilson at goal shoot to start the second half, making further changes with Bailey Mes on for skipper Ekenasio at goal attack.
With eight minutes left in the third term, New Zealand's lead had ballooned to eight goals (38-30) signalling danger time for the hosts.
England made several mini runs at New Zealand, but every time it looked like they were about close it up, the Ferns were able to reply at the other end, taking a nine goal lead into the last term (47-38).
In the earlier game, Jamaica overcame South Africa 59-54.
The Ferns face Jamaica on Thursday (NZ time) in Birmingham.