Shot putters Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill are the first New Zealanders in 40 years to feature along side each other in the final of an Olympic track and field event.
In 1976 Dick Quax earned silver and Rod Dixon finished fourth in the 5000m, missing bronze by 0.12s.
Walsh and Gill have qualified with the second and fourth best throws at the Rio Games.
Walsh threw 21.03m and Gill 20.80m, giving the country the chance for a maiden medal or medals in the men's discipline.
The previous best performance was Les Mills' seventh at Tokyo in 1964.
Their final starts at 11.30am.
Walsh needed one attempt to reach the automatic qualifying standard of 20.65m. He intends to chill out as much as possible to take his mind off the sport's show piece.
"It was good to get in there - one and done - so I can get back to the village, put my feet up and prepare for one hell of show tonight.
"You can burn a lot of energy being nervous. You can think about it every now and again, but I try not to focus on it because come tonight you'll be flat as a pancake."
Gill threw within 3cm of his personal best. He heaved 20.80m with his third and final attempt, despite battling a broken right foot.
He says it's a dream come true.
"We've been throwing against each other since we were about 13 years old and it's so cool to make an Olympic final together [with Walsh].
"I was a bit sore on the second throw but didn't feel it in my third because I was so pumped."
American Ryan Crouser threw the best qualifying attempt with 21.59m.
Walsh set a personal best of 21.78m when he won the world indoor championships in March.
Two-time defending Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski will be in the final 12; the Pole threw 20.56m. American Joe Kovacs, who threw 21.93m to win last year's world championships, qualified, as did Commonwealth Games champion O'Dayne Richards.
Another former world champion, David Storl of Germany, also made it through.