Gay couples wanting to walk down the aisle must now wait for a select committee to decide on the bill to legalise same-sex marriage before facing two further votes to pass into law.
Labour MP Louisa Wall's Marriage Amendment Bill passed its first hurdle in Parliament last night with a conscience vote with 80 in favour and 40 against.
Wall said the passing of the first stage was a historic moment for New Zealanders and a step toward the legal recognition that loving couples, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to marry.
"I want to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to all of my Parliamentary colleagues who supported the bill this evening, and for their passionate engagement with this cause," Wall said last night.
Wellington couple Belle Mayston and Kyasha Robinson, who wish to marry, joined the march to Parliament yesterday in favour of the bill. Their wish is a little closer with the near-landslide victory conscience vote.
"Civil union sounds cold, it sounds clinical. It sounds like sort of a business partnership. Definitely marriage is more appealing - we'd be able to flaunt it."
Their families and friends accepted their love, they said, so they could see no reason the Government should not as well.
Mayston said the institution of marriage was as important to gay couples as it was to heterosexuals.
"It just strikes me as ridiculous that we [can't marry]."
Labour MP Su'a William Sio, who controversially broke ranks with most of his caucus colleagues and warned the measure could spark a backlash against his party, spoke against the bill.
''It is a difficult issue and the views are very divided,'' Sio said.
Many believed that some other legislation should be used to strengthen same sex rights rather than changing marriage laws, he said.
''By passing this legislation we not only change the definition of marriage, we change it's meaning and the fundamental basis of marriage. This change will have enduring ramifications for future generations.''
Dozens of MPs sought a call to speak on the bill, with MPs freed from the usual strictures of voting on party lines.
The bill had been favoured to pass since it was plucked from the member's ballot earlier this month, but few expected the margin to be so convincing.
The vote was initially recorded as 78 in favour after proxy votes for Act Party leader John Banks and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne were not recorded. That was later amended by leave of the House leaving Labour's Raymond Huo as the sole MP not to cast a vote on the bill.
Prime Minister John Key had a proxy vote recorded in favour, as well as other Cabinet Ministers Paula Bennett, Judith Collins and Steven Joyce.
Prominent MPs from Labour to vote for the bill included both the leader David Shearer and deputy Grant Robertson, as well as the former leadership combination of Phil Goff and Annette King.
Two National MPs - Tim Macindoe and John Hayes - spoke in Parliament against the bill.
Macindoe said same sex relationships were ''intrinsically different'' so could ''never be regarded as true marriage.''
''The nature of marriage should not be interfered with,'' Macindoe said.
NZ First leader Winston Peters said the bill should be the subject of a referendum before it could become law.
All eight NZ First MPs voted against.
''There is still an assumption in this House that members know better than the public when it comes to issues of morality,'' Peters said.
''That is an archaic belief that has no place in a modern democracy.''
Wall acknowledged the bill had ''attracted passionate reactions from a number of quarters''.
But she said it was ''not the state's role to sanction heterosexuality or homosexuality.''
''Nor is it the State's role to judge the marriages of its citizens.''
How Your MP voted in the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill:
Amy Adams (N); Jacinda Ardern (L); Chris Auchinvole (N); John Banks (A); Maggie Barry (N); Paula Bennett (N); Jackie Blue (N); Steffan Browning (G);Gerry Brownlee (N); Cam Calder (N); David Carter (N); Charles Chauvel (L); David Clark (L)David Clendon (G); Jonathan Coleman (N); Judith Collins (N); Clayton Cosgrove (L); David Cunliffe (L); Clare Curran (L); Lianne Dalziel (L); Jacqui Dean (N); Catherine Delahunty (G); Peter Dunne (UF); Ruth Dyson (L); Kris Faafoi (L); Darien Fenton (L); Te Ururoa Flavell (MP); Craig Foss (N); Julie Anne Genter (G); Phil Goff (L); Paul Goldsmith (N); Jo Goodhew (N); Kennedy Graham (G); Tim Groser (N); Kevin Hague (G); Hone Harawira (M); Tau Henare (N); Chris Hipkins (L); Parekura Horomia (L); Gareth Hughes (G); Paul Hutchison (N); Shane Jones (L) Steven Joyce (N); Nikki Kaye (N); John Key (N); Annette King (L); Iain Lees-Galloway (L); Andrew Little (L); Jan Logie (G); Moana Mackey (L); Nanaia Mahuta (L); Trevor Mallard (L); Mojo Mathers (G); Murray McCully (N); Ian McKelvie (N); Sue Moroney (L)Russel Norman (G); Hekia Parata (N); David Parker (L); Rajen Prasad (L);Grant Robertson (L); Denise Roche (G); Jami-Lee Ross (N); Eugenie Sage (G); Pita Sharples (MP); David Shearer (L); Scott Simpson (N); Lockwood Smith (N); Maryan Street (L); Rino Tirikatene (L); Chris Tremain (N); Metiria Turei (G); Tariana Turia (MP); Phil Twyford (L); Nicky Wagner (N); Holly Walker (G); Louisa Wall (L); Kate Wilkinson (N); Maurice Williamson (N); Megan Woods (L)
Shane Ardern (N); Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (N); David Bennett (N); Chester Borrows (N); Simon Bridges (N); Bill English (N); Christopher Finlayson (N); Nathan Guy (N); John Hayes (N); Phil Heatley (N)); Brendan Horan (NZF); Colin King (N); Melissa Lee (N); Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZF);Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga (N); Tim Macindoe (N); Tracey Martin (NZF); Todd McClay (N); Mark Mitchell (N); Alfred Ngaro (N); Damien O'Connor (L); Simon O'Connor (N); Denis O'Rourke (NZF); Winston Peters (NZF); Richard Prosser (NZF); Ross Robertson (L); Eric Roy (N);Tony Ryall (N); Mike Sabin (N); Katrina Shanks (N); Su'a William Sio (L); Nick Smith (N); Barbara Stewart (NZF); Lindsay Tisch (N); Anne Tolley (N); Louise Upston (N); Andrew Williams (NZF); Michael Woodhouse (N); Jian Yang (N); Jonathan Young (N)
N - National
L - Labour
NZF - New Zealand First
G - Green
MP - Maori Party
M - Mana
UF - United Future
A - Act
Raymond Huo, Labour, is not recorded as voting either for or against.
Since there were no abstentions this suggests he did not vote. This is why the votes add up to 120 in a 121 seat parliament.