Mafatu does not have much time to do things for fun on the island, as he has a lot of work to do to ensure his survival and prepare to journey back to his home. He does take the opportunity to do something for his own enjoyment, however, when he...
Mafatu does not have much time to do things for fun on the island, as he has a lot of work to do to ensure his survival and prepare to journey back to his home. He does take the opportunity to do something for his own enjoyment, however, when he finally finishes his canoe and takes it out on the water for the first time. Mafatu is filled with pride when he finds how well the canoe handles on the sea; "never (has) he been as happy as in this moment". Even though he knows that he should get back to the island to climb to the lookout, he stays out on the water, enjoying "to the full this new sensation of confidence in himself, this freedom from the sea's threat". Mafatu spends time just fishing, and looking down into the amazingly clear water. He cannot believe "how fantastic (is) that undersea world" ("Drums").
Mafatu's voyage home is difficult for two main reasons. First of all, he is forced to leave the island precipitously because he is being chased by the eaters-of-men. The savages chase him for several days, making that part of the journey quite desperate as Mafatu flees for his life. After he manages to elude his pursuers, Mafatu encounters another problem, the vagaries of the winds and tides. There is "a drift and pull that appear(s) to make a forward gain impossible", and he is stranded on the water under the blazing sun for many more days as his food and water slowly run out ("Homeward").
When Mafatu finally makes it back to Hikueru and, carrying his spear, approaches the villagers, his father does not at first recognize him. Then the aged chief sees Uri, the small yellow dog who has been Mafatu's constant companion since childhood, and Kivi, the albatross Mafatu had long ago rescued and who has stayed near to him ever since. Tavana Nui then knows without doubt that the stranger who has arrived on the island is indeed his long-lost son ("Homeward").