Tony Woodcock scores the opening try of the final (photosport)
The 24-year wait is over for the All Blacks, but it took a monumental effort before they subdued underdogs France 8-7 to claim the Rugby World Cup in Auckland.
The French, largely written off pre-match after an erratic passage to the final, showed huge spirit in front of a largely partisan 61,000 crowd at a packed Eden Park on Sunday night.
It was a final marked by gnawing tension because of the closeness of the scoreline and by solid defence by both sides as the encounter turned into a battle of attrition in the second half.
When South African referee Craig Joubert blew full-time to hand the Webb Ellis Cup to New Zealand for the second time, there was a burst of jubilation among the home fans.
But France will go away with their heads held high as their courageous efforts took them so close their first cup victory.
Both teams lost their starting first five-eighths in the opening spell.
France's Morgan Parra went off after getting a head knock in tackling second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu and was replaced by Francois Trinh-Duc.
All Black Aaron Cruden suffered what looked like a serious knee injury when tackled by Trinh-Duc.
His departure completed an amazing international comeback for Stephen Donald, who was whitebaiting when called into the squad as injury cover less than a fortnight ago.
Cruden's injury continued a wretched run for New Zealand No.10s in the tournament, with Dan Carter and Colin Slade having departed because of groin injuries.
After a passionate rendition of both national anthems, France produced a novel response to the haka.
Initially forming a V behind the 10 metre line, they then advanced to stand in a line on the halfway mark.
That was the sign for a determined start by the French, as they began to show some of the flair that had been absent from their game for much of the tournament.
They used the width of the field, moving the ball both sides, but the All Blacks defence held firm.
The home side slowly began to dominated proceedings, camping for large periods inside the opposition half.
After halfback Piri Weepu missed a penalty attempt, the All Blacks struck on 14 minutes through a set move from a lineout.
Loose forward Jerome Kaino, who again put in a strong performance, made the take before passing back to prop Tony Woodcock, who went through a big hole to score.
Weepu couldn't convert, nor could he landed a subsequent penalty that would have given his side some breathing space.
France's sole real chance of the opening spell was a Trinh-Duc drop goal attempt that went wide.
A Donald penalty early in the second half took the score to 8-0, before France brought their supporters to their feet in the 47th minute.
An attempt by Weepu to retain a loose ball for his side by kicking it to his outside only succeeded in giving possession to Trinh-Duc.
The ensuing French attack ended with skipper Thierry Dusautoir planting the ball down by the posts and Trinh-Duc's conversion made it a one-point game.
Weepu, who was seen getting some physio on his groin area before the match, was replaced shortly after.
France, superbly led by Dusautoir, were now making a real contest of it, and in the 65th minute they had a chance to go ahead but Trinh-Duc pushed a 48m penalty wide.
In the closing stages the All Blacks were forced into plenty of defence as Les Bleus dominated possession.