Netball giant Irene van Dyk charmed those who came to meet her in Whanganui on Saturday, New Zealand Masters Games CEO Kathy Cunningham says.

"She is one of the nicest people who just happens to be an athlete. She was so kind, so welcoming, so giving of her time."

Ms van Dyk spent several hours at David Jones Motors in Victoria Ave, shooting hoops, giving away prizes and meeting people to promote registrations for the New Zealand Masters Games.

For several years she was one of the world's best netball players and goal shooters, playing for South Africa and New Zealand and winning lots of medals. She has retired from international sport and now plays for Wellington's Central Pulse.


Many people came specifically to meet her, Ms Cunningham said. She was able to sign up at least 30 for the games, including a 75-year-old man from Lower Hutt who happened to be in Whanganui.

Ms Cunningham's goal is to have 6960 people registered for the games. If she achieves that she has promised to have the number tattooed on her body somewhere. Numbers have been declining - with 4751 registered last year.

The Masters Games are run in Whanganui from February 3-12 next year. On November 1 the cost of registering for them increases from $45 to $60.

Ms van Dyk's appearance was organised by the trust that owns the games and by Suzuki, one of the games' sponsors.