The left-back fired home a 20-yard effort to secure the points in a match Great Britain dominated, although goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was called upon three times in the second half
Hope Powell's team controlled much of the match after a slow start and were guilty of missing a string of chances to break the deadlock in the first half.
Houghton got them out of jail with a low free-kick after the break and Karen Bardsley was on hand to deny Sarah Gregorius twice in order to preserve Great Britain's lead.
The attacking combination of Eniola Aluko and Kelly Smith did most of the damage for the home team, but the duo were left thwarted in opening 45 minutes.
Aluko forced New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon into an excellent save from the penalty spot before she and Smith created two golden opportunities for Anita Asante.
First, Asante headed Aluko's deep cross onto the post before sending a Smith corner wide of the target.
Right-back Alex Scott also went close before Asante spurned another chance when she attacked a corner positively only to send her header wide from point blank range.
Houghton finally put Great Britain into the lead with a powerful 20-yard drive before Bardsley thwarted Gregorius for the first time.
The game opened up as New Zealand sought an equaliser and Aluko was only denied when in on goal by a superb last-ditch tackle.
A mix-up between Ifeoma Dieke and Casey Stoney gifted Gregorius the Kiwis' best chance of the match but the striker could only shoot weakly at Bardsley.
The goalkeeper was on hand again to tip Amber Hearn's chip over the crossbar as Great Britain held on to secure three points.