Nani Pelekai is the tritagonist of the Lilo and Stitch franchise. She is the older sister and legal guardian of Lilo. She first appeared in the 2002 film Lilo & Stitch and has been voiced by Tia Carrere in most of her appearances.
Nani is Lilo's big sister who was appointed as Lilo's sole guardian after the death of their parents who were killed in a car accident. She is said to be 19 years old in the first film. As a result of having to support herself and Lilo, she is often stressed and busy. Her busyness often interferes with her friendship with David, who later serves as her love interest. She cares deeply for Lilo and fears losing her to social workers like Cobra Bubbles. Nani is known for her inability to hold down a full-time job, due in part to the antics of Lilo and Stitch. She is also noted for being a terrible cook, yet excels greatly in mathematics and chemistry.
Nani appears in the film, having become Lilo's sole guardian after their parents' recent death. Nani is visited by a social worker named Cobra Bubbles who is concerned that Nani cannot adequately take care of Lilo. He is considering putting Lilo in foster care, but Nani refutes this by citing that she is the only family (AKA "ohana") that Lilo has left. However, Nani will have to prove that she is capable of caring for Lilo in order to prevent Lilo from going to a foster home.
After realizing that Lilo has no friends at hula school (Mertle Edmonds and the other girls bully her), Nani allows Lilo to get a pet from the pound. Lilo chooses Stitch, who, unknown to either girl, is actually an alien. Later, Nani is forced to take Lilo and Stitch with her as she tries to find a new job. Unfortunately, Stitch's attempts to evade capture by Jumba and Pleakley keep ruining her chances. Nani's friend David, having seen Nani, encourages Nani to take Lilo surfing with them to improve their mood. However, Jumba makes an attempt to capture Stitch from underwater. To everyone, it appears that Stitch had tried to drown Lilo. Mr. Bubbles sees the whole thing and tells Nani that he will come for Lilo in the morning.
While waiting for Mr. Bubbles the next morning, Nani is informed of a job offer by David. Nani orders Lilo to stay at home while she goes to apply. While she is gone, a fight between Stitch and Jumba results in the house being destroyed and Lilo calls Mr. Bubbles for help. Nani returns at the same time as Mr. Bubbles arrives and the two have a brief argument over Lilo's well-being. When Lilo is kidnapped by Gantu, Nani accompanies Stitch, who has revealed his alien origins, in Lilo's rescue. At the end, Nani and Lilo are appointed Stitch's wardens by the Grand Councilwoman while Cobra Bubbles, who is revealed to be a former CIA agent, is enlisted to supervise the new family.
Nani returns in this film, now dealing with Lilo's hula recital and the constant arguing between her and Stitch. Nani is featured as the main subject of the subplot involving David and Pleakley, as David feels Nani's lost interest in him and Pleakley attempts to provide romantic advice.
Nani is usually seen working a variety of jobs to support herself and Lilo. As always, she is concerned for Lilo's well-being, though she does allow Lilo to capture the rogue experiments. The episode "Retro" features Nani's middle school friends, who mistakenly believe that she is the Vice President of the company she works for. She sometimes helps with the experiment-hunting, such as in the episode "Phantasmo" where she saves Lilo and Stitch from a ghost-like experiment. She also rescued Lilo from being annihilated by Gantu in "Fibber", where she also briefly pretended to be Pleakley's fiancée.
Nani is seen after Lilo, Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley return from the Galactic Federation with awards for the successful extraction of the 625 experiments. Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley turn down their awards at first to stay on earth, so as not to break Lilo's heart. However, Lilo notices that they really do want their dream rewards and Nani convinces her that she's doing the right thing and showing aloha spirt by letting them go. Later on, after an evil clone of Stitch named Leroy arrived on earth to kidnap the experiments, he sneaks into the house and pretends to be Lilo when Nani almost notices him. At the end of the film, Nani is seen alongside David, Lilo, Jumba, Pleakley, Stitch, Mertle and all the experiments, taking an ohana picture.
Nani appears briefly in flashbacks in Reunion with Lilo!, including a brief scene where she, Jumba, Pleakley and Stitch see Lilo off to college. Somewhere during this time period, she had a child or was about to have a child, which delayed Lilo when she planned to come back from college to visit Stitch, leading him to leave Earth.
Nani makes a brief appearance in the finale of World of Color with Lilo and Stitch, despite the film not having any other role in the show.