The Kiwis regained credibility but didn't do enough to win the opening game of their three-match series in Huddersfield, with a terrible error by otherwise impressive fullback Sam Perrett costing them the first test 20-14.
Perrett failed to field a kick to the New Zealand in-goal and instead allowed British wing Gareth Raynor to touch down in the 50th minute to put the British in front, a lead they added to 10 minutes later from debutant 18-year-old prop Sam Burgess.
That 10-point lead was enough for them to hang on, with the Kiwis only replying with five minutes left when the Bradford centre Shontayne Hape scored his second try.
His first, after just four minutes after a neat kick through by halfback Thomas Leuluai demonstrated the Kiwis would be a very different proposition to the side beaten 58-0 by Australia in Wellington a fortnight ago.
A fortuitous try from Paul Whatuira gave them a halftime lead against a try from Britain's Samoan-born forward Maurie Fa'asavalu and two goals from man of the match halfback Rob Burrow.
Great Britain captain Jamie Peacock praised his team's strength of character in the face of the fierce New Zealand pressure.
"We have been in that position and let leads slip, but we have improved over last few years and our character caught the Kiwis out," he told AFP news agency.
Early reports suggested wing Tame Tupou is out for the remainder of the series with ligament damage sustained just before half-time while Epalahame Lauaki may have suffered ankle trouble.
British prop Burgess was placed on report for a high tackle on Fuifui Moimoi.
- Fairfax Media
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