The earthquake-hit Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings have been added to an international watch list of treasured sites.
The category 1 registered buildings are now among those considered by the World Monuments Fund to be the most treasured in the world.
The New York-based fund has helped preserve important architectural and cultural heritage sites in more than 90 countries.
The chambers, one of the earliest Gothic-revival complexes of government buildings, were constructed from the late 1850s as the seat of the provincial government of Canterbury.
The buildings were extensively damaged in the September and February quakes.
The New Zealand Historic Places Trust said today that the buildings had been placed on the international fund's watch list.
Trust southern region general manager Malcolm Duff said the chamber's interior was held in high acclaim worldwide.
''In a New Zealand context, the [buildings] are unique, and to see them in their current state is very sad indeed.''
The trust was delighted with the listing.
Duff said it would raise the profile of the ''iconic'' landmark's plight at an international level, help with fundraising initiatives and attract expert help to restore the buildings.
''This project would likely act as a catalyst for smaller scale heritage revitalisation projects in the region and would facilitate the specialised training of heritage tradespeople,'' he said.
"Long-term, it would remain as a link to Canterbury's past as well as providing economic benefit through tourism.''