The "Urewera Four" have begun an appeal against their convictions and sentences for firearms offences related to their involvement in alleged military-style training camps in the Ureweras.
Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey were found guilty of firearms charges at their High Court trial and May.
Iti and Kemara were each sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, while Signer and Bailey received nine months' home detention.
The group were among 18 arrested in armed police raids in 2007, but charges against the 14 others were dropped.
Opening the appellants' case in the Court of Appeal at Wellington, Iti's lawyer Russell Fairbrother told the court the trial jury should have been taken to the Ruatoki area to see the context in which the alleged training camps took place.
He told the court the jury had perceived the group from a "central Auckland perspective", but in Ruatoki, as one witness told the court, it was not unusual to see someone walking around carrying a firearm.
Mr Fairbrother said the group was "exercising for their own personal benefit" on private land, from which the public was protected.
He said Justice Rodney Hansen, in summing up, told the jury that a legitimate purpose for the group's acts would be one that was not criminal, such as hunting - which inferred that military training was not a legitimate purpose, and therefore criminal.
The appeal is set down for take two days.