Whanganui has become the first New Zealand town to join the League of Historical Cities.
The league was developed to recognise the value of historical urban areas to local and international communities and includes cities as diverse as Alexandria, Athens, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Kyoto, Luxor, Ulan Bator and Xian. Others in the Pacific region are Ballarat, Melbourne and Norwood Payneham and St Peters.
Cities can apply to join the league whose website says membership costs US$100 per year.
"This is extremely exciting to be grouped with these cities," Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said.
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"International recognition of Whanganui's unique heritage is testament to the work that the community has put in to preserving and enhancing the city's historical cultural values.
"The river has shaped the history of the city and its people and has inspired oral, visual and written creative expression over many centuries, mixing both indigenous Māori and European settler culture. It hasn't always been a smooth sailing but it's important to acknowledge the history and preserve our heritage.
"We now look forward to creating international connections, sharing experiences, and using those to leverage economic and social benefits from our heritage assets. Our membership provides a platform to maximise economic returns from the city's heritage base."
Whanganui District Council heritage advisor Scott Flutey said membership of the league "further supports the need for a Whanganui Heritage Strategy". The strategy is to be developed this year.
The league holds conferences hosted by the member cities.