This article explores the origins of the development of town planning in New Zealand. In doing so it attempts to commence the task of charting the planning history of that country, a task that to date has been only partly or incompletely addressed. The discussion is set within a comparative framework that tries to relate the development and establishment of town planning in New Zealand to the factors that encouraged its development in Britain, the United States and Australia. From this exploration there emerges a picture of town planning developing in New Zealand not as much in response to the existence of slums and public health concerns, but as a product of the interests of some key individuals and their desire to ensure that the problems of the Old World were not perpetuated in New Zealand. Thus the diffusion of ideas on town planning from overseas becomes an important motivation to establishing town planning in New Zealand. Equally the need for local body reform and the willingness of the central state to intervene helped to ensure that town planning was accepted as an appropriate tool to regulate the urban fabric.