McLaughlan, who has also ended a stint with the Wallabies, will be joining a new-look All Blacks management team next year under incoming coach Scott Robertson.
New Zealand Rugby has not made the announcement official, but the new All Blacks coach confirmed the appointment when he told Stuff he was looking forward to McLaughlan, popularly known as Moose, joining his crew.
"The old detective, mate. He has had 27 years in the police. Moose has got an incredible story,'' Robertson told Stuff.
"He has been under 10 head coaches from Eddie Jones to Dave Rennie to Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown. He has been at the Wallabies for the last four years, been highly experienced, and respected.''
McLaughlan has been Highlanders manager since late 2014, and previously served five years with the New Zealand under-20 team and several seasons with Otago NPC and age-group teams.
As they do with players and coaches, the Highlanders offer nothing but best wishes when one of their own gets a role with the All Blacks.
"The Highlanders are very proud of Moose’s achievement and very pleased for him," Clark said yesterday.
"The Highlanders’ role is to promote our high-performance people into black.
"Moose has aspired to this role for 20 years, and every role he has undertaken — either voluntarily for Otago or eventually fulltime with the Highlanders and Australia — was part of the apprenticeship and job application process."
McLaughlan, a former long-serving police officer, had strong southern roots through family and work, Clark said.
The relationships he established in voluntary management roles with Otago and New Zealand rugby set him up nicely to meet the demands of a fulltime role with the Highlanders.
"He is very strong logistically and builds good relationships. When you are managing 90-plus bodies daily, this is critical," Clark said.
"His network of helpers around the globe are testament to how Moose is regarded by people.
"Anywhere in the world, there will be someone he can call on to help the team with any challenge. It’s pretty impressive.
"Moose has left an enduring legacy at the Highlanders and will be very hard to replace."
The Highlanders would eventually go to the market to find a permanent replacement for McLaughlan, Clark said.
The role will be covered internally until then by former manager Greg O’Brien, now the club’s general manager of rugby.