The will of the people does not necessarily have to be the right decision. It does not make one side of a debate right, and the other side wrong.
On this basis, the referenda were not about whether smoking cannabis is wrong or allowing a terminally ill person to choose when they would die is right.
In this case, each voter had a duty to cast their vote according to what they believed to be right. The referenda were presented to each as an individual choice, with the majority decision deemed to be the outcome.
It does not mean we all have to concur with the majority, but it should mean that we accept it as the preference of voters at this time. From yesterday's provisional numbers, we can take it as read almost twice as many supported the End of Life Choice Act as those who opposed it - the remaining votes to be counted cannot change the outcome. The call on legalising and controlling cannabis is closer, but so far, more oppose than support it.
It is to New Zealand's credit, and to those advocates and opponents on both issues, that this debate was conducted strenuously, but largely without rancour or attacks on individuals. That such polarising issues can be argued passionately but with civility is a tribute to the maturity of our nation.
Both referenda are the culmination of activism arising in New Zealand during the 1970s, but have taken very different roads.
For the End of Life Choice Bill, this is the latest turn for a movement which mobilised in New Zealand more than 40 years ago when members of the NZ Humanists Association and the Rationalists formed the Auckland Voluntary Euthanasia Society. The Death with Dignity Bill in 1995 was drafted up to go to a national referendum but this was voted down 61-29, a 2003 bill of the same name was narrowly defeated at its first reading by 60-58, with one abstention.
If parliamentarians do indeed reflect the will of the people, as our representative system implies, then views towards ending life with dignity had softened in those eight years.
Labour MP Maryan Street kicked off this iteration when she entered the End of Life Choice Bill in July 2012 but withdrew it in September in the belief it was not something to be debated in an election year. Act leader David Seymour had no such concern and introduced his version of the bill in June 2017.
The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws was formed in New Zealand the year after the Auckland Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Leading to this referendum, legalisation of cannabis has been tackled incrementally, first by approving hemp and then medicinal cannabis for production and use.
Hemp was legalised in 2004. The Psychoactive Substances Act passed with 119 MPs in favour in 2013, based on a principle of regulating low-risk drugs rather than attempting prohibition. In 2015, a National Government adopted a "national drug policy" as a clearer indication to treat possession of cannabis with compassion and proportion rather than with punitive measures.
These issues have been decades in discussion. Over this time, voters have had substantial opportunity to consider what they believed to be right. There have been numerous accounts from people over past months who changed their minds over the course of their lifetimes, or due to Road to Damascus-type events.
The outcome of these referenda will be a cause for celebration for advocates of the End of Life Choice Act and, so far, a disappointment for supporters of cannabis legalisation. But the vote count is unlikely to change people's minds in and of itself. That also is a people's right.
Final results for the referendums and the election are due on November 6 after the special votes are counted.
New Zealand has spoken, on death with dignity at least.