"It's unbelievable, surreal", said Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who was captaining New Zealand for the first time.
"It was always going to be tough playing the Kiwis at home", Australia captain Boyd Cordner said.
The win is a boost for the game in New Zealand after the disappointment of a World Cup campaign in which they suffered back-to-back losses to Tonga and Fiji and were eliminated in the quarter-finals. We were a bit shaky at times but we this is just the beginning.
"People like Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich, they've faced adversity and what we saw, to come back in form the way they did", Maguire said.
"I love the attitude; I loved the way they kept hanging in; I loved the way we almost won the footy game", Meninga said.
Australia lead by 14 points with 5 just minutes on the clock before the Kiwis stormed back to secure their win against Mal Meninga's new look Kangaroos breaking the Aussie's 13 game winning streak.
"It's okay to do it tonight but we've got to reflect that over this next tour".
Valentine Holmes and Lattrell Mitchell were a risky attacking combination down the left-hand side and they created Australia's first try, to Holmes, after only two minutes.
Australia hit the front in the second minute with a well taken try by Valentine Holmes and regained the lead 12-8 on the stroke of half-time with a try to Dane Gagai, a late addition to the Kangaroos squad.
The Junior Kiwis produced a series of highlight moments, none better than when Chanel Harris-Tavita threw the ball behind himself, flicked it up with his heel and regathered for Isaiah Papali'i to give the home side a 12-6 lead.
New Zealand trailed 12-8 at the break despite dominating possession and territory in the opening period.
But the likes of Joey Manu and Brandon Smith proved they were ready to be the faces of a new generation of Kiwis and there was light at the end of the tunnel.
For New Zealand, Ken Maumolo, Manu, Smith, Esan Masters and Jordan Rapana scored tries with Shaun Johnson landing three goals.
The star halfback then repeated the effort to set up a try for Rapana after Manu managed an offload the ball despite the attention of Mitchell and Holmes.
Some streets around Mt Smart Stadium are lined with Tongan flags and houses decked out in red and white.