With cheeks flushed and hands clapping, South African-born Silver Fern Irene van Dyk could not contain her delight at being sworn in as a New Zealand citizen yesterday.

"It's fantastic," she said, laughing. "You can't call me a South African any more. I'm a Kiwi now."

After five years in New Zealand, van Dyk, 32, and her daughter, Bianca, 7, were watched by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Sports Minister Trevor Mallard in the Beehive as they swore their allegiance to the Queen and New Zealand.

With her left hand on the Bible, the 1.9m tall goal shoot barely completed her oath before her excitement became just a little too much. "Oh, that's awesome," she said.

Van Dyk, whose website describes her as a proud Kiwi and lists her favourite flower as a pohutukawa, has made no secret of just how complete her switch in country allegiance is, even though she turned out for South Africa 72 times before picking up more than 50 test caps for the Silver Ferns.

She told reporters that when she first arrived to play netball in Wellington, critics wondered if it was a "hit and run" visit. But she said becoming a citizen repaid the faith and support netballers and New Zealanders had given her since she persuaded husband Christie to join her, and stay.

After spending some minutes describing how beautiful she considers Wellington, van Dyk said New Zealand was about as close to paradise as a person could reach.

"Today, officially, I can say this is my home. It is like I'm really a New Zealander."

Christie has already been sworn in as a citizen. An accomplished cricketer, he is in the West Indies on a Prime Minister's scholarship studying cricket coaching.

He returns tomorrow and will fly straight to Invercargill to support van Dyk and her team, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, in the final of the National Bank Cup against the Sting.

That final was caught up in controversy last week after Netball New Zealand shifted the final from the Magic's region to Invercargill. Van Dyk was reported to be "livid" at the decision.

Yesterday, she said the players knew the game was played on the court, and not in the stands.

"You know, we've got a lot of supporters in Invercargill ... really."