New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was leading the Black Caps for the first time on home soil after deposing Ross Taylor ahead of the recent trip to South Africa, with Taylor also making his return on Saturday, and McCullum won the toss and elected to field first in Auckland.
England then turned it on with the bat scoring its highest ever international Twenty20 score of 7-214 with Eoin Morgan (46 from 26), Luke Wright (42 from 20), Jonny Bairstow (38 from 22), Jos Buttler (32 from 16), Michael Lumb (22 from 15) and Alex Hales (21 from 16) all making strong contributions.
Mitchell McClenaghan was the only New Zealand bowler to go for less than 10 runs an over as England thrived on the conditions at Eden Park by hitting 15 sixes and 16 boundaries to make up a huge chunk of the eventual 7-214.
McClenaghan did well finishing with 1-29 from four overs, but the rest of the bowlers struggled with Trent Boult taking 2-40 from four, Ronnie Hira 2-42 from four, Nathan McCullum 0-49 from four, Andy Ellis 2-40 from three and James Franklin 0-14 from one.
That set New Zealand a massive ask to try to score 215 to start the three match-series off on a winning note.
The Black Caps made a solid start with debutant Hamish Rutherford and Martin Guptill combining for 31 before the son of former New Zealand captain Ken was out for 18 from 11 balls, but he showed encouraging signs hitting two fours and a six.
Captain Brendon McCullum then joined Guptill, but made just 10 from five balls to bring the man he replaced as captain to the crease and Taylor received a hero's reception from the Auckland crowd.
Taylor made just 13, though, and when he fell New Zealand was struggling at 3-77 from nine overs and still needing 138 from the last 66 balls.
Guptill had a disastrous tour of South Africa in all forms of the game, but was starting to strike the ball well as he made 44 but he was then out caught by England captain Stuart Broad off Wright.
New Zealand was then 4-111 and never threatened to win from there despite some brief cameos from Colin Munro (28 from 19 balls with three sixes) and Hira (20 not out from 11 balls). The Black Caps finished up on 9-174 from 20 overs to fall 40 runs short of England's total.
Broad was the pick of the bowlers for England with 4-24 from four overs with Steve Finn taking 3-39 and Wright 2-29.
Broad was delighted with how the England side under his leadership performed, especially with the bat.
"To go and get a record score today of 214 is the exciting thing from being within the team. To have the mindset to go and get such a high score is great to be part of," Broad said.
"A lot of the time you can be happy to get 170 or 180, but to be able to go and get 214 and defend it so comprehensively has left us delighted with it."
McCullum was disappointed with how the Black Caps came out to start the massive series of Twenty20, one-day internationals and Test matches with the touring English, particularly the team's fielding.
"We were outplayed by a far better team on the day. We missed our basics when batting, bowling and definitely in the field, but we've got another game in a couple of days where we can rectify those areas that didn’t go well today," McCullum said.
"It was a really poor day in the field. I think we dropped five catches and you can't afford to do that in any form of the game let alone 20-over cricket. We were exposed in the end, but I thought England was outstanding today and put us under pressure.
"It was disappointing to put in that performance in front of such a big crowd."