Former cabinet minister Denis Marshall has beaten three ex-colleagues to land the $280,000-a-year job as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Mr Marshall, who resigned as Minister of Conservation a year after the 1995 Cave Creek disaster, will join two other New Zealand politicians-turned-administrators in influential world posts.

Don McKinnon is Commonwealth Secretary-General and Mike Moore is Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Marshall expects to be confirmed in the post by the association's general assembly in September, and take up the role at the end of the year.

He won the Pacific region's nomination for Secretary-General ahead of former National colleagues Sir Douglas Graham, Tony Friedlander and Roger McClay, and then headed off seven other contenders from the Commonwealth.

The 57-year-old regards the five-year term as a feather in New Zealand's cap and recognition of the Pacific region's role in the association.

"I do not think this country should sell itself short in its ability to take on international roles," he said.

"It indicates that New Zealanders have the skills and abilities to work internationally."

Mr Marshall said the association was making a huge contribution to Commonwealth affairs.

"It is being called on more and more frequently to participate in the development of democracy in emerging countries."

He thought that other countries could learn a lot from the way New Zealand operated its select committee process.

"There's an enormous amount of interest in developing countries, particularly African countries."

Mr Marshall has been the driving force behind the newly launched New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation.