Wendy Saunders is a land use planning specialist in natural hazard risk reduction at GNS Science, Wellington, New Zealand. This involves translating the science undertaken at GNS Science into guidance and support for local and central government decision making. In 2017, Saunders won the New Zealand Planning Institute Best Practice Award for the risk-based approach she developed being applied within the Bay of Plenty Regional Policy Statement. The approach focuses on the consequences of an event, rather than the likelihood of it occurring. Her current research interests include investigating the role of Maori indigenous knowledge in land use planning for natural hazard risks; investigating the science-to-practice system; how climate change is incorporated into land use plans; and support and resources for land use planners and decisions makers on how they can reduce risks arising from natural hazards. Saunders has released eight guidelines for planners and decision makers on pre-event recovery planning, landslides, tsunami, liquefaction, and three on risk-based planning.
In response to the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence in 2015-2016, Saunders led all of the government response to the replacement Christchurch District Plan development process. This involved coordinating submissions between 15 government agencies, attending mediation, preparing evidence, and being an expert witness to ensure an appropriate planning response to the changed environment in Christchurch City.