MPs and people watching in the gallery of New Zealand's parliament broke into spontaneous song on Wednesday, following the passage of historic gay marriage legislation.

New Zealand became the 13th nation in the world to legalise same-sex weddings after MPs voted 77 to 44 in favour of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.

After the vote count was announced, the House of Representatives in Wellington was filled with the sound of the New Zealand love song "Pokarekare Ana" - in the indigenous Maori language.

As the parliamentary debate wound up, Louisa Wall, the sponsorer of the bill, told colleagues the change was "our road toward healing."

"In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal – it's a declaration of love and commitment to a special person," she said.

She added: "Nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill."

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The singing legislators and members of public inside the parliament were joined by hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates who celebrated outside.

New Zealand legalised civil unions for gay couples in 2005. Under the law passed today same-sex couples will be allowed to adopt children for the first time.

New Zealand joins Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and Uruguay in having legalised gay marriage.

Last week the French Senate approved a Bill that brought same-sex marriage a significant step closer. In the UK gay marriage legislation is currently making its way through parliament.

'Pokarekare Ana' Lyrics

The waves are breaking, against the shores of Waiapu, My heart is aching, for your return my love.

Oh my beloved, come back to me, my heart is breaking for of love for you.

I have written you a letter, and enclosed with it my ring, If your people should see it, then the trouble will begin.

Oh girl, come back to me, my heart is breaking for of love for you.

My poor pen is broken, my paper is spent, But my love for you endures, and remains forever more.

Oh my beloved, come back to me, my heart is breaking for of love for you.

The sun's hot sheen, won't scorch my love, Being kept evergreen, by the falling of my tears.

Oh girl, Come back to me, I could die of love for you.

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  • A man holds up a gay pride flag as he and others celebrate after lawmakers legalized same sex marriage inside Parliament in Montevideo, Uruguay, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. The vote makes Uruguay the third country in the Americas after Canada and Argentina to eliminate laws making marriage, adoption and other family rights exclusive to heterosexuals. In all, 11 other nations around the world have already taken this step. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

  • People celebrate outside the Parliament after lawmakers passed the "marriage equality project" in Montevideo, Uruguay,Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Their vote makes Uruguay the third country in the Americas after Canada and Argentina to eliminate laws making marriage, adoption and other family rights exclusive to heterosexuals. In all, 11 other nations around the world have already taken this step. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

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