Ethnology of Tongareva
The pasaka house was built without wall posts and wall plates. The lower ends of the principal rafters rested directly on the ground. The roof was page 98 made of lauhala sheets. (See fig. 6.) The pasaka was a recognized type of good dwelling house built for strong winds and hurricanes. It was not as likely to have the roof blown off as was the house with the roof raised above the ground. Since the people spent most of the daylight hours out of doors and sat out on the cleared space in the evenings, the houses were used for sleeping or resting in the recumbent position. Consequently, the low roof was not especially inconvenient, and any slight inconvenience was compensated for by the added security in windy weather.
Besides these dwelling houses, rougher houses were built on the food lands, where the people stayed at odd times and did not need well-constructed dwellings. The pasaka house involved less work as the essential uprights, ridgepole, and rafters which rested on the ground furnished sufficient framework for a roof of plaited coconut leaves. It was evidently a modified type of pasaka that Lamont (15, p. 113) described:
In recrossing I observed some low sheds, which, as I saw no other dwelling places, were doubtless the residences of the natives, though the most miserable shanties I had ever beheld for human beings, consisting merely of four inclined sticks, about five feet in height, with two uprights and crossbeam, forming a light frame for a small roof. At the base the house is some six feet wide by eight long, the whole covered by a thatch of the cocoa-nut tree, formed by splitting the bough and platting [plaiting] the leaves, till enough are linked together to reach about half way up the frame, on which it hangs so loose that it can be lifted or dropped at pleasure. Other boughs are then fastened on in the same manner, but secured to the frame till all is covered in, the ends being closed by platted boughs secured to the uprights. Those I saw on the present occasion had the leaves supported by a stick.
By “bough” Lamont means the coconut leaf with its midrib, and “leaves” are the leaflets. Clearly, the plaited roof sheets did not reach to the lower ends of the rafters, and the hanging plaited leaf that reached halfway up the frame was the wall screen (pataro) which was propped up by a stick, leaving an aperture through which Lamont crawled.