The people of New Zealand have spoken with a strong majority voting yes for euthanasia and, by a slimmer margin, no to legalising of cannabis.
The preliminary results, released on Friday, prompted a mixed bag of reactions from people in Tauranga, with one palliative care specialist saying it was a "sad day" given the euthanasia result.
However, a school principal says he was "relieved" and would have been "despondent" if the cannabis vote had passed.
About 65.2 per cent voted yes for euthanasia, compared to 33.8 per cent against, while 46.1 per cent voted for legalised cannabis, compared to 53.1 per cent against.
Nearly 500,000 special votes still need to be counted, but the margin between the support and opposition for euthanasia and cannabis were both wide enough that it was likely the preliminary results would stand.
The final results for the referendums will be released next Friday.
The End of Life referendum was binding and the majority "yes" vote would see it become law, with terminal patients able to request assisted dying from November 6 next year.
Waipuna Hospice manager Richard Thurlow said it was a "sad day" and he believed that what was to come would be "a lot bigger than just an End of Life act".
He said the Ministry of Health would have a big job setting up the framework within a year and funding to allow "much-better" palliative care across the country would be vital.
This was because some people could opt-in for euthanasia if palliative care was not readily accessible for them or they felt there was "no other alternative", he said.
He said if someone in their care did choose to head down that path, they would refer them to the appropriate service and still provide close support in looking after their loved ones.
"It's going to be a very different grief process."
He said he hoped the funding would not come out of palliative care services which were already struggling to stay afloat.
Tauranga woman Lecretia Seales was a strong advocate for the End of Life Choice Bill all the way up to her death from brain cancer in 2015.
Her mother Shirley Seales gave an emotional speech acknowledging her daughter's legacy at a press conference this afternoon.
"I'm sure [Lecretia] would never have imagined that she would still be acknowledged for the part she has played. She would be very humbled and I know she would want others acknowledged."
She paid tribute to Matt Vickers, several lawyers who advocated for the cause, and MPs past and present including David Seymour, Maryan Street and Michael Laws.
She said the "greatest reward" was the majority vote and her family was "extremely proud of Lecretia".
"I'm sure she is smiling down on us all."
To meet the criteria for assisted dying, a person must suffer from a terminal illness that is likely to end their life within six months, be 18 or over, a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand, have significant and ongoing decline in physical capability, experience unbearable suffering that cannot be eased, and be able to make an informed decision about assisted dying.
These criteria must be agreed on by the person's doctor and an independent doctor. If either is unsure of the person's ability to make that decision, a psychiatrist will be needed. Anyone living with mental illness, disability or advanced age will not be eligible.
Act Party leader David Seymour had been advocating for the End of Life Choice Bill for close to five years since he put it forward in the ballot.
It was not the first time the bill had been raised in Parliament. In 1995 National MP Michael Laws' Death with Dignity Bill and in 2003 NZ First MP Peter Brown's bill, by the same name, were voted out.
In 2012, the End of Life legislation was developed and put into Parliamentary ballot by former Labour MP Maryan Street. However, it was not drawn before she left in 2014.
"Relieved," was how Principal Russell Gordon said he felt seeing the results of the cannabis referendum this afternoon, saying he would have felt "despondent" had the country voted yes.
He said working with young people, their safety was his main concern.
While he acknowledged young people were experimenting with the drug, he believed legalising it would have removed a barrier.
However, he said more education was needed around cannabis.
"It was reasonably close; we need to start conversations around what we can do to reduce the impact [cannabis] has on people who are disproportionately affected."
Tauranga resident and legalisation supporter Cameron Rutten said the disappointing outcome reflected shortsightedness in those that voted, who did not look at the bigger picture of legalisation.
"They overlooked the massive economic gains that legalising it could have potentially had for the country."
He believed that, if done right, it could have opened "massive export deals" and uses could have stretched further with technology being developed internationally to turn hemp fibres into construction material.
"There's also the medical side of it. We could've opened ourselves up to scientists ... doctors who wanted to research the medical applications of it, bringing in highly skilled people into the country."
Rutten said although he did not personally smoke, he did not feel comfortable denying the option to others.
Drug addiction worker Darryl Wesley was "very pleased" with the result.
Wesley, who had worked in the drug addiction recovery field for 11 years, said it was a substance that caused "real harm" - something he saw through the people he worked with.
"It's a lot more potent than in the 60s, 70s and 80s. It's a lot more powerful drug these days."
He said there was no harm in further educating the public on the harm caused by any illicit drugs.
The Electoral Commission said the two-week post-election wait for the preliminary referendum results was down to prioritising the votes for the general election, for which preliminary results were released within hours of polling booths closing.
- Additional reporting NZ Herald