The Kiwis came back from a 10-point deficit at half time in their dead rubber rugby league World Cup pool game against England in Newcastle to win by the same margin, 36 to 24.
But the win came at a price with centre Steve Matai put in a neck brace and stretchered off after he was squashed by teammate Greg Eastwood in a 29th minute tackle.
It proved the turning point that galvanised the Kiwis as they turned a 24-8 deficit around with five unanswered tries to claim the win in front of 15,145 fans.
Skipper Benji Marshall and fullback Lance Hohaia ran riot as winger Manu Vatuvei scored four tries - the first time in World Cup history - with his three in the second half all set up by the Kiwis' pair of playmakers.
Earlier Tonga beat Scotland 48 - nil in their final match, securing seventh place in the event.