Mafatu forms a firm bond of friendship with Kivi, the albatross. He sees something of himself in the bird: a misfit who finds himself isolated from the other birds, bullied by them in much the same way that Mafatu was by his own people. But unlike Mafatu, Kivi fights back bravely against the other birds, and this greatly impresses the young boy.
Mafatu saves Kivi's life, and in due course, the albatross returns the favor. When Mafatu and his dog, Uri, are left drifting aimlessly on the ocean in their canoe, without any provisions and close to death, it is Kivi who suddenly appears in the sky and, by his flight path, shows Mafatu that there's an island nearby. Immediately, Mafatu's flagging spirits are raised; Kivi has given him hope that he will get through this terrible ordeal in one piece. And in giving him hope, Kivi has saved Mafatu's life.