George Moala's try on debut gave New Zealand a 25-16 win over Samoa but they were given a real scare in Apia.
On a historic occasion, the All Blacks were rattled at times by the ferocious tackling of the Samoans, and struggled with their handling in a physical encounter.
They dominated the first half, with four Dan Carter penalties helping them take a 12-3 lead, although they appeared rusty in their first Test of the season.
Moala's try early in the second half looked to have made the game safe, but Alafoti Faosiliva went over for Samoa with 15 minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish, before Carter's late penalty eased Kiwi nerves.
It was a special occasion and the first time these two teams have met on Samoan soil and New Zealand's arrival at Faleolo International Airport was similar to that of a nation returning home with the Webb Ellis trophy, such was the buzz on the island for this game.
There was even a half-day national holiday for the match that was played in front of a sell-out crowd in Apia.
Before kick-off there was an impeccably-observed minute's silence to commemorate Samoan legend Peter Fatialofa and Samoan-born former All Black Jerry Collins.
New Zealand made the early running, and although their quick passing and good support lines was held out initially, Samoa sprinted up too quickly in defence allowing Carter to open the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty.
The opening 15 minutes were played almost exclusively in Samoa territory and Carter could have doubled the lead when Kahn Fotuali'i was deemed to be offside at a scrum, but he pulled his effort wide. He corrected that with the help of the post a couple of minutes later after being the victim of a late tackle.
Samoa finally made a little headway midway through the half, and when Richie McCaw got trapped in a ruck slowing down the maul, he gave Tusi Pisi the chance to put Samoa on the board. The fly-half made no mistake from halfway to cut the deficit to three.
The Samoans then saw their best chance of the half go begging when Alesana Tuilagi almost got away but couldn't get his pass out to Tim Nanai-Williams.
New Zealand responded with a surging run from Charles Piutau down the left, and when Samoa were caught offside getting back, Carter slotted his third penalty of the half.
The All Blacks were dominating the territorial battle, but struggling to create try-scoring opportunities. It didn't matter though, with Census Johnston penalised for a dubious scrum infringement,allowing Carter to push the lead to 12-3 with five minutes remaining in the half.
The second half began in a similar vein, with New Zealand thumped back on a number of occasions by some big tackles, but six minutes in they finally crossed for their first try. After a powerful scrum on the left, Carter produced a perfect cross-kick for Moala, on debut, and the winger collected, brushed off a weak tackle from Tim Nanai-Williams and finished impressively.
Carter converted, but Samoa hit straight back with a second penalty from Pisi when Israel Dagg knocked on under a high ball and then played the ball on the deck.
Pisi missed another shot at goal from more than 50 metres a couple of minutes later, hitting the cross bar, but he found his range once more after 55 minutes when the All Blacks strayed offside.
That was quickly cancelled out by Carter after a powerful scrum from the All Blacks to make it 22-9 to the visitors.
New Zealand were struggling a little to really cut loose, and Samoa got right back into it with 15 minutes remaining when Faosiliva went over.
The back row made the initial break in midfield, and popped up a phase later to collect an offload and power past Charles Piutau for a try that brought the house down. Nanai-Williams converted to bring the hosts back to within a score.
The All Blacks weren't rattled though, and started to play the game back in Samoan territory, with a powerful scrum seven minutes from time allowing Carter to slot a sixth penalty of the afternoon and push the lead out to nine, 25-16.
Samoa had the final chance of the game, with Jack Lam stopped just short of the line, but it wasn't to be for the home side, who nevertheless recorded their best-ever result against New Zealand.
Pens: T. Pisi 3
For New Zealand:
Pens: Carter 6
Samoa: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus (c), 7 Jack Lam, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ma'atulimanu Leiataua, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Maurie Faasavalu, 21 Pele Cowley, 22 Faialaga Afamasaga, 23 Ken Pisi.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 George Moala, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Charlie Ngatai.
Venue: Apia Park, Samoa
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)