The US went on to beat Russian Federation 21-12 in the semi-finals, but were comprehensively outplayed 34-0 by Olympic gold medallists Australia in the final.
The Kiwis had remained unbeaten in pool play and through the quarter and semi- finals at the season-opening Dubai Sevens, but never really recovered from a storming South African start in the final.
An early sin-binning for a New Zealand player who went high on Branco du Preez paved the way for the Boks to open a 12-0 lead with tries by captain Philip Snyman and the twinkle-toed Seabelo Senatla.
Defending series' champions South Africa won the tournament beat the All Blacks Sevens 24-12 in the decider.
The national sevens team dusted off their dispiriting defeat at the hands of South Africa to overpower Uganda 29-14 and secure their Cup Quarters slot at the HSBC World Series opening leg in Dubai. A try in the last few seconds from Tim Agaba, however, sealed the 24-12 victory for the Blitzboks.
But a dominant first half for France had England on the backfoot in their second outing, though Norton dashed the length of the field to wrestle back the advantage come the end of the first period.
"We let NZ back into the game with a silly yellow card and one or two mistakes towards the end nearly cost us‚" SA captain Snyman said.
It was the flawless start to the 2017/18 season after the success of the previous year and the tonic the team needed ahead of this weekend's second tournament in Cape Town. "We want to focus on our processes and if we leave the result and the result doesn't go our way then we're still happy", he added.
"It's easy to play well in a team as good as this‚" Smith said.