Wellington-based internet law expert Peter Dengate Thrush has been appointed chairman of the board of Icann, the US-based organisation that globally co-ordinates internet address identifiers.
He replaces Vint Cerf, as "chairman of cyberspace".
The internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), based in Marina Del Rey, California, has become major powerbroker since being set up by the US Commerce Department to administer addresses on the internet.
It is responsible for the global coordination of the internet's system of unique identifiers such as .org, .com and country codes such as .nz.
Mr Dengate Thrush, 51, a barrister who specialises in internet law, and a longstanding internetNZ member, has been involved with Icann since its inception in 1998.
His work in civil litigation has included specialist work on intellectual property, competition and internet law, and he was the legal advisor to internetNZ from 1996 to 1999, advising it on the formation of its registry company (Domainz) and acting in early domain name disputes. He chaired the body for two terms from 1999 and chaired its international affairs committee.
He also developed and chaired a body of national domain name registry managers for the Asia Pacific region.
Mr Dengate Thrush's wife Liz, 53 , father, Ron Thrush, 79, and his brother, Gavin Thrush, 46, and a family friend were all killed in a Lower Hutt car crash in June last year.
The crash was within weeks of Icann's first Wellington conference, which considered its strategic plan through to 2009, continuing reform of its governmental advisory committee, and staged a public meeting on the stability of the domain name system.
InternetNZ president Peter Macaulay said it was a real accolade to have a New Zealander as ICANN chairman.
He said Mr Dengate Thrush was thrilled with his appointment and acknowledged the contribution that many members of internetNZ had made to the development of global internet structures.