End of Life Choice Act: David Seymour overcome with emotion as euthanasia law drafted in 2015 finally gets green light

The shepherds of the End of Life Choice Act nervously waited in Parliament for the preliminary referendum results to be announced - and what a result for them. 

"The End of Life Choice referendum has been won - 65.2 percent," ACT's deputy leader Brooke van Velden announced alongside leader David Seymour, as a crowd of supporters clapped and cheered at the news. 

The vote was overwhelmingly in their favour and just moments after hearing the result, Seymour - who led the charge to legalise euthanasia in New Zealand - was overcome with emotion. 

"I'm just feeling fantastic and it gives me so much love for this country that we have chosen to give those people suffering some real choice and control and compassion at the end of their life," he told Newshub. 

Assisted dying will be accessible to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents over the age of 18 who are terminally ill with six months to live. 

They must be experiencing unbearable suffering and be in a state of irreversible decline and be able to make an informed decision about assisted dying.

It must be signed off by two doctors and if either sense the person is being pressured, the process stops.

Dr Sinead Donnelly, a palliative care specialist who rallied against the Bill, is devastated.

"Yeah, extremely disappointing," Donnelly told Newshub. "But the people of New Zealand have spoken through their voting."

Those who fought so hard for the 'yes' vote are celebrating, including the family of Lecretia Seales. Her High Court fight for the right to die inspired the Bill. She lost the case and died soon after. 

Her widower Matt Vickers has kept up the fight.

"We won, and what a fantastic result, too," he told the group of supporters in Parliament via video call. "New Zealanders have once again demonstrated themselves to be kind, compassionate and caring."

Her mother Shirley Seales is proud. 

"We are extremely proud of Lectretia and I'm sure that she is smiling down on us all."

It's been a long road. Frank Dungey is a founding member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society which was established in 1978. 

"I didn't think myself it would take 42 years," Dungey told Newshub. 

Former National MP Michael Laws and former Labour MP Maryan Street both tried to introduce a law too, and both there to celebrate on Friday. 

"Pretty elated," said Street. 

"Yeah I think we are," Laws agreed. "That's a great result when you get two-thirds of the country, it's decisive. There's no question."

"There's no winding that back in any shape or form," Street added. 

Seymour's Bill was drafted in 2015. It was pulled from the ballot two years later, and after the longest parliamentary select committee process in history, it finally got through before being handed over to Kiwis to make the decision. 

"A kinder, more compassionate, more humane society," Seymour said after the public voted to pass the law. "What a great day to be a Kiwi." 

This was a binding referendum so euthanasia will become legal – it has already been through Parliament and bashed into shape. But it doesn't come into force immediately - that won't happen for another 12 months

In that time a lot of work needs to be done setting up the practical framework for euthanasia - things like making lists of doctors who'll participate and establishing a review committee.

So while there is cause for its campaigners to celebrate, there is still a way to go yet.